By Manuel Pereira Colocci
Knowing how to make a product does not necessarily mean that you know how to sell it or how to make a successful business of it. That is the thought behind the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) new program called the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). Launched last March, AWE augments existing public diplomacy programs focused on women and their economic empowerment in support of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative. Through AWE, ECA is providing women with the knowledge, access, and networks that will give their business ideas an increased chance for success.
AWE participants are able to learn business basics through an online course called Dreambuilder, created by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management with support from the global mining company, Freeport-McMoRan. In addition to the online course, expert facilitators in each country localize the basic principles, and embassies leverage local contacts to provide additional opportunities for the participants. Entrepreneurship training exposure varies tremendously around the world.
Combining online learning, in-person discussions, and expert facilitation gives the participants a gold-standard curriculum while also providing a supportive learning environment where lessons can be applied in real-time. Designed as a holistic learning experience, AWE is meeting women where they are by including peer-to-peer mentorship, incubators, seed funding, and more.
To date, AWE is being implemented in 26 countries throughout Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as well as being implemented in Spain and Papua New Guinea. ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce launched the AWE cohorts in Ghana and Colombia, the latter with the help of Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. Embassy Santiago timed the graduation of its AWE participants to coincide with the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation’s (APEC) Women and the Economy Forum, where APEC economies gathered to discuss mitigating the legal obstacles to women’s formal participation. Embassy Madrid recently held a workshop with Navin Khemlani, CEO of the International Business Council of Spain, to discuss seed funding for women in the Canary Islands.
Manuel Pereira Colocci is the senior program designer of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.