Dar es Salaam – On Tuesday, July 11, 2023, Ambassador Michael Battle and Tanzania’s Representative from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Principal Trade Officer Rashid Kilambo, jointly launched the inaugural Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) East Africa Summit in Dar es Salaam.
The AWE East Africa Summit, held July 11-13, brought together nearly 120 successful women entrepreneurs and business leaders from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. During the Summit, participants exchanged knowledge and best practices, expanded their capacity, and networked to foster growth, innovation, and sustainability. The Summit leverages U.S. business expertise and technology to build business acumen and create stronger ties and networks among women entrepreneurs from the East Africa. American and Tanzanian business leaders and investors will guide participants on topics such as using technology to scale up business models, future-proofing businesses, and pitching and marketing to investors.
In his remarks, Ambassador Michael Battle highlighted that AWE has empowered over 25,000 women entrepreneurs worldwide since its launch in 2019. From improving artisans’ livelihoods through digital marketing to facilitating access to maternity health care, AWE alumni have demonstrated the importance of investing in women-led businesses to achieve sustainable growth across the East African region.
AWE is a global initiative of the U.S. government seeking to promote women’s economic empowerment with the goal of helping 50 million women worldwide fulfill their economic potential. AWE is committed to providing women the knowledge, networks, and access they need to turn their ideas into reality. To date, the AWE program in Tanzania has empowered over 150 women entrepreneurs in partnership with SELFINA by providing them the skills to achieve their fullest economic potential.
Principal Trade Officer Kilambo emphasized, “AWE program has benefited many women entrepreneurs, providing them access to education and mentorship. I believe education is the key to uplifting women and providing them equal access and opportunities on the playing field. I look forward to learning more about the Summit’s outcomes and how Tanzanian women entrepreneurs here can continue to scale up their businesses and provide further avenues for more women to participate and achieve economic success.”
AWE Summit participant Lightness Salema, the founder of Dream Developers LTD, an enterprise in Dar es Salaam, observed, “AWE gave me the skills I needed to fulfill my vision of uplifting the livelihoods of other women in my community through my business in sustainable bee keeping. I am excited to network with like-minded business leaders at the AWE East Africa Summit and learn innovative ways to continue growing our businesses and bring change to our communities.”
The U.S. Embassy partners with Selfina to implement the AWE program in Tanzania. Founded in 2002 by Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, Selfina is a pioneer of micro-credit in Tanzania through micro-leasing with particular attention to widows and young girls. In the past 19 years SELFINA has economically empowered more than 31,000 women through an active revolving fund. Over 300,000 lives have been impacted through the benefits accrued. Women are now owners of their own businesses and more than 150,000 jobs have been created.