LUSAKA – The U.S. Embassy, in collaboration with the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC), has today awarded nine women entrepreneurs a total of K4.5 million ($225,000) in seed funding to support women’s entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment. Each of the winners received K500,000 ($25,00) from USADF following a competitive review of their business plans.
The entrepreneurs are part of the first phase of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a U.S. government program to empower women with knowledge, tools, and resources they need to start and grow their businesses. A total of 87 women in Lusaka successfully completed their training after the launch of AWE in Zambia in 2019.
Speaking when co-presenting the seed funding, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Young said that the funding would address the financing shortfalls that remain one of the most severe challenges facing small and medium-sized entrepreneurs 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.”
“USADF’s funding of AWE graduates demonstrates the agency’s commitment to helping women entrepreneurs succeed and is aligned with the all-of-government approach taken by the U.S. government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative,” stated Guy Kahokola, USADF Zambia Country Program Coordinator. “The seed funding will give women entrepreneurs access to capital they need to grow their business and complements the training and mentorship the U.S. Embassy and WEAC have provided.”
The U.S. Embassy continue its commitment to support Zambian entrepreneurs through initiatives like AWE and through partnerships. Chargé Young also announced the second phase of AWE that will expand beyond Lusaka into Ndola and Kitwe with the selection of 150 women who will start their training in November.
“WEAC is strategically positioned to support Zambian women venture successfully into business while helping them address gender barriers to entrepreneurship, and is keen to see the second phase of AWE reach more women through this empowering platform,” said Nambula Kachumi, WEAC Executive Director.
Zambia is among 50 countries worldwide participating in the AWE program launched globally in March 2019 by the U.S. Department of State. AWE demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment to help Zambia create a better economic future. The program helps to fulfill women’s economic potential, and in doing so, creates conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.