U.S. Invests K4.5 million in Women-Owned Businesses, Launches Second Phase of Women Entrepreneurship Training

Remarks by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Young
Presentation of the Second Phase of Academy for Women Entrepreneurs
and Announcement of Seed Funding Winners
Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Center, Lusaka, Zambia
October 29, 2020

(as prepared for delivery)

Good morning.  Thanks to WEAC Executive Director Nambula Kachumi and the WEAC team for hosting us today.  Also, thank you Guy Kahokola from the United States African Development Foundation for joining us, as well as members of the press, and the BongoHive team.

I am so pleased to join you this morning to celebrate an important milestone of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a program that represents the U.S. government’s commitment to entrepreneurship and to women’s economic participation in Zambia.

Earlier this year, we celebrated as 87 women were the first to complete the AWE program in Zambia, gaining skills, networks, and resources that will help them establish or grow their businesses.  Today, I am honored to present nine of these women with K500,000 ($25,000) each in seed funding through our partnership with the United States African Development Foundation (USADF).  Together, this amounts to a K4.5 million ($225,000) investment by the U.S. government in their business hopes and dreams, and an investment in Zambia’s economic future.

To win this funding, these entrepreneurs demonstrated that they had business plans capable of withstanding tough questions from experienced entrepreneurs and experts at the USADF.  Many of these businesses are already working to address critical challenges faced by Zambian communities.  For example, one of the nine winners with us there today is Annie Kapapula Landu, whose business is located in the remote Luapula Province.  She is working with local farmers to produce cassava and will use the crop to make unique products, such as hand sanitizers.  Annie’s business model is scalable and innovative, and will help in creating a market, jobs, and incomes for the local community.

Congratulations again to all nine winners.  I am so impressed by your ideas and your passion.  I hope that the seed funding that you receive from USADF will help expand your businesses and create jobs and other economic opportunities critical to women’s empowerment.

At the U.S. Embassy, we know how important this kind of funding can be, as securing financing remains one of the most severe challenges that small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, hindering business development.

But we are here for one more reason today.  I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Embassy, in partnership with WEAC, has completed selection of the second cohort of the AWE program, scheduled to begin their training next month.

While the first AWE cohort graduated 87 participants from Lusaka alone, we now have 150 women entrepreneurs from Ndola, Kitwe, and Lusaka ready to start their training.

Over the next several months, these 150 entrepreneurs will build the networks and gain the knowledge they need to fine-tune their business ideas through a combination of classwork, field visits, and mentorship from seasoned members of the business community.

Launching this second phase of the AWE program symbolizes the U.S. government’s continuing commitment to entrepreneurship in Zambia.  As we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic take such a terrible toll on economies around the world, including Zambia’s, we know that supporting entrepreneurs and a growing private sector has never been more important.

Through the AWE program and our partnership with USADF, WEAC, and so many others in this room, we are excited to take life-changing knowledge and tools to more women entrepreneurs in Zambia.  We look forward to another successful cohort in the months ahead.  Thank you.