The launch of African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) Botswana Chapter this week has raised hope among local women business entrepreneurs. This has opened room for more women entrepreneurs from Botswana to benefit from AWEP that is aimed at assisting women across sub-Saharan Africa to further develop their business knowledge and skills through exchange programmes.
Speaking at the launch AWEP Botswana Chapter chairperson Chigedze Chinyepi, said AWEP provides professional networking, business development and trade capacity building opportunities for women. Chinyepi, who is the first beneficiary of the programme, said AWEP is developing women business leaders to grow from small to medium enterprises and become voices for social advocacy in their communities.
Since coming from the AWEP exchange programme Chinyepi has been instrumental in the advocacy of women economic empowerment in Botswana. She and the other have been at the forefront of launching the AWEP Botswana Chapter to open up opportunities for other local women.
AWEP was first launched in July 2010 by the US State Department as part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which promote US-Africa trade. The program helps to forester a better business environment on the African continent by identifying and promoting networks of African business women. Forty African women are taken to the United States every year to receive training, professional development and to network.
Currently four Batswana business women have benefited from the programme and it is believed that more will continue to benefit after the launch of Botswana Chapter. During the launch a fifth beneficiary Boitshoko Kebalepile was announced and will be leaving the country in July for a three weeks exchange programme in America.
One of the beneficiaries Mmapula Letshabo said the programme offers a very good opportunity for business women to learn more and come up with ideas to help other women. Letshaba owns a fashion design and manufacturing company.
AWEP Botswana Chapter was officially opened by the American ambassador to Botswana Earl Miller who assured of America’s continued support for AWEP. Miller said it is America’s dream to see women businesses in Africa blossoming and increasing exports to other markets. The United States has been sponsoring AWEP exchange programmes since 2010.
The launch of AWEP Botswana Chapter follows similar step by countries such as Zambia and South Africa.