Women hold the key to economic prosperity in Africa and throughout the world, and that is why the United States is committed to creating entrepreneurship opportunities for African women. Building off the success of the inaugural program in 2010, the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program seeks to provide African women business owners with the tools to export to the United States under the terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, and to establish or expand business relationships with U.S. partners.
And so, for three weeks, 40 African women entrepreneurs from 36 countries participated in professional development training sessions where they met and networked with U.S. policy makers, companies and industry associations, civil society groups, non-profit organizations advocating for women’s economic opportunities, multi-lateral development organizations, and business alliances.
Last year's African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, which was also the first, was very successful, said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. That first session's graduates are already expanding their businesses, creating a region-wide network, and launching women's business incubators within their own countries. These women are very determined and very committed, but they are still facing obstacles, she said:
"We have to break down the barriers that still exist. We have to change the laws that still hold women back. We have to not only encourage you, but encourage the governments and businesses of Africa to recognize a good thing, which is your empowerment and entrepreneurial skills."
"There will be young men and women who will have a better future because of what you do — because of the jobs you create, the businesses you start, the growth you inspire, and the results that will benefit the entire world," said Secretary of State Clinton to the women entrepreneurs at a luncheon in their honor.
"We have faith in you, and we have faith in Africa, but we think Africa will grow more sustainably if women are full partners in that growth."