African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative picks 200-strong 1st cohort


The African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) has selected the inaugural cohort for its 12-month training programme, with 200 women entrepreneurs from 38 African countries making the cut.

Disrupt Africa reported last month that US-based non-profit the Centre for Global Enterprise (CGE) launched the new training programme, AWEC, with the aim of building a pan-African community of women entrepreneurs and business owners, and empowering them with the strategy, leadership and business management skills needed for growth and economic advancement.  

Over 2,300 applications were received from 41 African countries, with a rigorous review process narrowing the applicants down to a shortlist of 200 entrepreneurs – a less than nine per cent selection rate.

They will now begin the year-long programme which is delivered primarily via an online learning platform, with two in-person Leadership Summits scheduled for Rwanda and Morocco later in the year.

“Put simply, the applicants were impressive and inspiring. They articulated urgent market needs, clear business goals, and powerful stories of resilience and grit. Perhaps most compelling are the women who desire not only to gain business management skills to improve their own companies, but to share this knowledge with other women and young people to uplift entire communities,” said Karen Sippel, managing director of AWEC.

Five countries have the largest representation in the first cohort – Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uganda; although entrepreneurs from 38 African countries make up the full list.

Participants represent a wide range of industries, with a majority in the spaces of agriculture, education, healthcare, cosmetics, and fashion.

The cohort includes current business owners – 86 percent of the total cohort – as well as aspiring entrepreneurs.

Applications to the second cohort of the programme are set to open in January 2019.


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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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