Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Graduation

Remarks by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires a.i. David Young
At the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Graduation
Thursday, June 10, 2021

(as prepared for virtual delivery)

Good morning.  My name is David Young, the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy.  I am so pleased to join you this morning to hear about your experiences in the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs program and the difference that this training has made as you build and expand your businesses.

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I wish to congratulate all of you for successfully completing the program, even amid the continuing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am particularly excited to congratulate our first graduating class from Ndola and Kitwe.  Special congratulations to you ba kopala.

I would like to take a few minutes as I begin to urge you all to continue following the COVID-19 prevention measures recommended by the Ministry of Health and to get vaccinated when you have the opportunity.  As you all know, the third wave of COVID-19 is here, and each week we are seeing cases rise dramatically across Zambia.  It is time to put those masks back on, to maintain physical distance and avoid crowds, to wash your hands regularly, and to seek medical attention if you have symptoms.  Following these five golden rules is so important if we want to keep ourselves and our families safe.

In addition to its terrible health toll, COVID-19 has also had a profound and damaging impact on economies around the world, including here in Zambia.  This fact just reinforces the importance of entrepreneurship and the role you play as graduates of this program.  Entrepreneurship remains the key component to a thriving economy and to creating jobs and prosperity.  For this reason, we will continue to support entrepreneurship and Zambian entrepreneurs through our work at the Embassy.

As you all look back on the journey you have just completed, I hope that the practical tools, knowledge, networks, and mentorship you gained in this program have already begun to help you achieve your dreams.  This is particularly important because women’s participation in the economy is critical to creating jobs, fighting poverty, and developing families and communities.

As your businesses grow, I also encourage you to work with the Ministry of Commerce to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act utilization strategy.  AGOA provides trade preferences for duty-free entry into the United States for certain goods. The Commerce Ministry can help you better understand and comply with U.S. regulations and requirements and develop a better sense of the quality and sustained delivery and service levels that American customers expect.

A program like this cannot succeed without the hard work and inspiration of so many friends and partners.  I would like to thank the program’s mentors and facilitators for your dedication to the training.  Your business expertise and guidance are critical to the success of this program.

Thanks to the private sector partners that have come on board to help sustain the AWE program for the long-term.

Thanks also to our colleagues at the U.S. African Development Foundation, who are providing seed funding to several of today’s graduates, putting them one step closer to achieving their business goals.

And last but certainly not least, a special thanks to our partner, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Center, or WEAC, for your continued dedication to ensure the program’s successful implementation despite COVID-19 challenges.

As we move forward, I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Embassy, in partnership with WEAC, will soon announce the official launch of the third phase of AWE, which will expand the program beyond Lusaka and the Copperbelt into Livingstone in Southern Province.  We are excited to keep building this program and to reach more women entrepreneurs across Zambia.

Congratulations again to all our graduates today on your successful completion of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs program!