U.S. Government Supports New Women’s Entrepreneurship Center

Lusaka. June 5, 2015.

LUSAKA — United States Ambassador Eric Schultz today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Caterpillar Foundation President Michele Sullivan and CEO and Founder of Startup Cup Sean Griffin supporting a new women’s entrepreneurship program in sub-Saharan Africa. Building off of the efforts of two key U.S. Department of State programs, the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers of Resources, Education, Access and Training (WECREATE) program, AWEP-WECREATE is a public-private partnership aimed at establishing physical entrepreneurial community centers in safe and centralized locations for women to gain access to the essential resources required for starting or growing businesses. The first Center of the AWEP-WECREATE Project will open in Lusaka and support the creation and development of women entrepreneurs including members of the local AWEP chapter in Zambia.

The AWEP-WECREATE Project is funded through the Africa-Women, Peace and Security (AF-WPS) Initiative and through public-private partnerships with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. corporate partner Caterpillar Inc. and Caterpillar Foundation, and private sector partners responsible for implementing and sustaining the selected centers. The AWEP-WECREATE Project is being launched in partnership with the AWEP, a public-private partnership launched by the U.S. Department of State in 2010 to increase women’s economic participation in sub-Saharan Africa. Through its network, AWEP will explore opportunities to facilitate the integration of women-owned businesses, including those led by women trained at WECREATE centers, into the supply chains of companies operating in the region.

The WECREATE | Zambia center will provide sustainable access to business development resources, networking assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs. The center will give women access to:

  • Tailored, experiential education, among other tools and resources;
  • Trained mentors who will help women entrepreneurs overcome business challenges;
  • Capacity building through educational programs, accelerated strategies to access finance and markets, innovation, and bootstrapping techniques;
  • Technology and education on how to use technology for business;
  • Sector-specific programming (e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, information technology);
  • Networking opportunities;
  • Continual personal support for business growth;
  • Childcare services that enable women to more freely participate in Center activities;
  • Resources on the prevention of and response to gender-based violence; and
  • Programs to engage men and boys as partners in supporting women’s economic participation.

This center is a part of a larger network of WECREATE centers, the first of which was established in Pakistan in February 2015. The Lusaka center will be the first in Africa, with plans to open additional centers in Kenya and in West Africa.

The United States considers investing in women as a critical foreign policy goal and the untapped potential of women as an opportunity for global economic growth and development.