AWE Cohort 5 Program graduates gain access to U.S. models for business development, funding opportunities, and a wider network

AWE Cohort 5 Program graduates gain access to U.S. models for business development, funding opportunities, and a wider network

Kampala: The 5th cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Program has successfully graduated 85 women entrepreneurs from Kampala, Lira, and Arua, building businesses in agriculture, education, health, technology, and tourism, courtesy of the US Embassy and SHONA.

The U.S. Embassy Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan, to provide women entrepreneurs with the knowledge, networks, and access they require to establish and expand their businesses. a program supporting the development of women entrepreneurs around the world.

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Ellen Masi the U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy Counsellor gives her keynote speech at the AWE graduation

Ellen Masi the U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy Counsellor said: “The Department of State continues to support the AWE program because the U.S. government considers the advancement of inclusive economic growth and opportunities for all Ugandans, particularly women entrepreneurs, a crucial priority.

Ellen Masi also asked the graduates to remember that they have the power to create jobs, drive economic growth, and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. AWE’s reach extends across Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and other regions where promoting women’s economic empowerment is a principal U.S policy priority. AWE was developed to support the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which is designed to empower women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential, creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.

Joachim Ewechu, SHONA Group Co-founder and CEO speaking during the AWE graduation

AWE was developed to be a flexible education opportunity for dynamic women to learn how to develop and grow their businesses. It is centered around the online training program on women’s entrepreneurship, DreamBuilder, developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.

SHONA collaborated with the U.S. Embassy to implement the 5th cohort of the program that launched in November 2022. Throughout the program, the selected entrepreneurs from Kampala, Lira, and Arua districts learned from a combination of the online DreamBuilder program and expert facilitators who led in-person sessions designed to support the DreamBuilder program. The training was done using interactive and creative methods of learning, and the impact of the program on the participant’s skill level was continually assessed. This is the second time SHONA is implementing the AWE program in partnership with the US Embassy, after the 3rd cohort of the AWE program.

Some of the experts who facilitate this program include:
Charity Kamusiime — An experienced Marketing Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the telecommunications, advertising, and financial services industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Marketing Management & strategy (exceptional drive for Digital marketing strategy & executions), Business Planning, Sales, and Team Building with strong brand communication & product marketing.
Augustine Mwanje — A Certified Entrepreneur Trainer and Consultant with the Regent University (USA) international networks of Business Development Centers. Over 500 entrepreneurs in 35 industries from start-ups to well-established businesses have relied on his expertise as a consultant and coach to help them grow and prosper.
Hadijah Nakkanja — Founder of Community Women’s Enterprise Network Uganda (CWEN), a business resource space for women entrepreneurs in the agro-processing sector. Their goal is to support high-potential women entrepreneurs to gain shelf space in leading local and regional stores by strengthening the capacity of women food entrepreneurs through a co-shared processing and production facility, packaging, branding, marketing, merchandising, and promotion.
Some of the graduating entrepreneurs include:
Brendah Nantongo — Is building a telehealth platform, Kaaro Health, a last-mile digital health infrastructure to bring equitable access to quality healthcare for Africa’s rural villages.
Annabella Nakato — Proprietor of Afrilux Holdings, through their beauty brand Afrilux Beauty, provides non-toxic cosmetics for in-salon and at-home hair care and solution-focused skin & body care.
Cindy Okullo — Operates Enable Motherhood Uganda, which provides vocational skilling for women and youth specifically in tailoring, craft and welding, making washable pads.
Gloria Amviko — Started Glowi Pure Honey, processing and packaging honey and other hive products like beeswax and propolis tincture. Glowi works with over 100 farmers within the West Nile region.
The AWE program has been a great success since its inception in Uganda and has been instrumental in growing women’s entrepreneurship in Uganda and helping participants grow their businesses, and many have gone on to secure funding and create jobs.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Joachim Ewechu, SHONA Group Co-founder and CEO, said, “The AWE program is a highly impactful initiative that supports promising women entrepreneurs in Uganda to grow for long-term success. We believe that investing in women entrepreneurs is critical for economic growth and development in Uganda and on the continent. As SHONA, we are proud and committed to supporting women entrepreneurs in Uganda and other countries, and we look forward to implementing more successful programs in the future in partnership with the US Embassy in Uganda.”

On top of acquiring new knowledge and skills from the program, the graduates also learned from their peers who were exposed to US models for business development and will qualify to apply for funding from the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and will be able to access investments between UGX 3.5 million and UGX 35 million from SHONA Capital, a debt fund run by SHONA.

Additionally, the graduates officially become alumni of US government exchange programs joining other AWE Alumni and fellows from various programs at the US Embassy.

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