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US-backed agency empowers women entrepreneurs

MAUN: The African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) is expected to bring positive results in changing lives and businesses of women entrepreneurs in Maun and the surrounding areas.

This was disclosed by different speakers at the launch of AWEP here this week, including U.S Ambassador to Botswana, Earl Miller who encouraged women to take advantage of the programme which is meant to change women’s entrepreneurs economically.

Miller said AWEP in partnership with USAID provides professional networking business development and trade capacity building system of opportunities for networks, which will assist female entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa in relation to their businesses.

He added that the formation of AWEP was to reverse the lack of participation of women in the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), where the system of preferences offers joint tariff free access to approximately 7,000 export categories.

Moreover, Miller said since the inception of AWEP, the US Embassy has been able to send women entrepreneurs to the U.S for a two-week International Visitor Leadership Programme in empowering them in their businesses.

For her part AWEP chairperson, Chigedze Chinyepi encouraged women in businesses to take advantage of the programme in order to develop their businesses and mindset.

She said AWEP was meant to support advocacy for women economic empowerment adding that if a woman is not economically empowered, she becomes

economically abused.

Chinyepi also added that AWEP is meant to sensitise government, individuals, civil society and other stakeholders on the economic impact of gender based violence.

Another speaker who applauded the AWEP was Maun West MP, Kgosi Tawana Moremi who urged women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the programme.

He also said in the past, women were left behind to carry out household duties while men went to school and later find work elsewhere.

He said there is potential in women entrepreneurs adding that he is hopeful that the programme will not disappoint the Maun business community.

Meanwhile, Chinyepi said women entrepreneurs are faced with challenges such as access to credit adding that those who have been funded by some financial institutions, generally find that the income is not enough for the business.

She added that lack of knowledge in women entrepreneurs and lack of customer care are also hindrances in business growth.

AWEP was launched in July 2010 in the U.S.

It is organised and supported by several U.S agencies, under the leadership of the US Department of State. The original AWEP event brought 34 African businesswomen from AGOA eligible countries.


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