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Dodoma – Thirty-one women entrepreneurs from Dodoma today concluded 10-weeks of specialized training in business and entrepreneurship funded by the U.S. government through its Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program. The women were recognized for completion of the course and urged to continue with their revenue-generating activities during a graduation ceremony attended by Dodoma District Commissioner Jabir Shekimweri and many other distinguished guests. Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Embassy was Ambassador Donald Wright.
AWE is a global initiative of the U.S. government seeking to promote women’s economic empowerment with the goal of helping fifty 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.
Speaking to the graduates during the ceremony, Ambassador Wright described the impact of the training that AWE provides. “The ten weeks of training you received as part of this program gave you the practical skills to create sustainable businesses and a network of mentors and like-minded entrepreneurs in the United States,” he said.
He further added that empowering women economically is the fastest way to change society. “Women have a strong multiplier effect on the wider community because when women succeed, they are more likely to invest their earnings into their families and their communities, paying for things like their children’s education and health care. The economic benefits of your accomplishments support future generations. Your creativity is already having an impact on the society and the economy of Tanzania,” he said.
At the graduation, Ambassador Wright announced an additional $100,000 in funding for the AWE program in Tanzania.
The Dodoma cohort is the fifth group of women to participate in AWE. The first group of twenty women graduated September 9, 2019, in Dar es Salaam. The second group of twenty-five women entrepreneurs from Iringa completed their program on December 16, 2020. The third group of seventeen entrepreneurs from Zanzibar graduated June 28, 2021. The fourth group of thirty-two entrepreneurs from Mwanza graduated November 8, 2021.
Through a partnership with the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), entrepreneurs participating in the AWE program are eligible for additional seed funds from USADF ranging up to $25,000 to expand their businesses.
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.