Supporting economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is a top priority for the United States.
Supporting economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is a top priority for the United States. Experience tells us that the fastest and most effective way to spur economic growth and trade, both regional and international, is to incorporate women into the economic sector.
Women make up 50 percent of the global population, 40 percent of the global workforce, but only own about 1 percent of the world’s wealth. In Africa, women offer the continent’s greatest potential to unlocking economic growth. Given the opportunity, women invest most of their income into their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that benefits society and the broader economy.
Unfortunately, most women run up against barriers that limit their ability to fully participate in the economy, such as special taxes targeting women, inability to access financial services, and laws barring them from inheriting businesses or property.
Four years ago, the Department of State initiated the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, or AWEP. This outreach initiative is designed to increase the integration of African businesswomen into the global economy through training, increased trade relations and business activity with U.S. businesses and the U.S. Government. The program aims to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses, and create environments more welcoming of female entrepreneurship in their native countries.
In late July and early August, 30 women entrepreneurs from 27 African countries will participate in the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. They will attend professional development meetings and network with U.S. policy makers, companies and industry associations, non-profit groups, and multilateral development organizations. For three weeks, the women will share best practices, discuss common challenges and learn about global economic factors that lead to long-term business growth.
Ultimately, the United States hopes to assist AWEP participants in building networks of women entrepreneurs across Sub-Saharan Africa who will help to transform their communities by owning, running, and operating small and medium businesses, and to drive social and economic progress in their communities and countries.
The United States Government is committed to empowering women and supporting entrepreneurship to spur economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa, and around the world.