Meridian Hosts African Women Entrepreneurs, July – August, 2013

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the African Women's Entrepreneurship Group of 2010. Collectively, the group represented 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Photo: U.S. Department of State


From July 20 – August 10, 2013, Meridian International Center will administer the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (French AWEP) on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

AWEP is one of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership projects, and will provide the women entrepreneurs with the opportunity to grow their businesses. These women have been grouped into three different sectors: agriculture (including poultry, biofuel, juice, cosmetics); fashion and textiles; and handicrafts and home décor. Their businesses employ anywhere from 5 to 500 people (including seasonal and part-time workers).  Many of them are exporting their products to other African countries, and others to Europe and Asia.  Only a small number are already exporting their products to the U.S.

AWEP will support efforts to increase trade regionally and to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and will fulfill several other objectives related to strengthening relationships between the two continents. AGOA, which was enacted in May 2000, was designed to expand U.S./sub-Saharan African trade and investment, stimulate economic growth, promote a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues, encourage economic integration, and facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy. These include:


  • Introduce the political, economic, and social factors that influence and encourage the development of private enterprise and free trade in the United States;
  •  Enhance understanding of the partnerships that link capital, business development services, and market access to enable entrepreneurs to build high-growth and high-impact ventures;
  • Create networking opportunities between the AWEP group and American entrepreneurs and businesspeople to share innovative business strategies and best practices;
  • Highlight business trends, trade opportunities and market development in the agribusiness and textile/home décor sectors;
  • Illustrate the essential role of non-governmental and grassroots organizations in supporting and empowering women professionally and personally; and
  • Develop social entrepreneurship strategies to address gender barriers in business and society.


The African Women Entrepreneurs group will also enjoy the opportunity to network with U.S. entrepreneurs throughout the United States:


Chicago, Illinois                                            July 20 – 25, 2013

Project opening

Overview of the U.S. system of government

Programs supporting women’s entrepreneurship

Marketing and communication skills workshop

Sector visits


Portland, Oregon                                         July 25 – 31, 2013

Sector visits: agriculture

Harvesting, processing and packaging

Best business practices workshop

Volunteer opportunity

Home hospitality


Los Angeles, California                              July 25 – 31, 2013

Sector visits: fashion and textiles

Government support of economic and business development

Best business practices workshop

Volunteer opportunity

Home hospitality


Albuquerque, New Mexico                      July 25 – 31, 2013

Sector visits: handicrafts and home décor

Small business support services

Best business practices workshop

Volunteer opportunity

Home hospitality


New York, New York                   July 31 – August 4, 2013

Programs empowering women around the world

Business development opportunities for women

Leadership workshop

Sector visits


Washington, DC                          August 4 – 10, 2013

Federal government role in supporting private enterprise

U.S. assistance to AGOA countries

Advocacy and social entrepreneurship workshop

Developing entrepreneurship skills

Exporting workshop

Project closing