A diverse group of 250 women on Friday graduated from the 3rd cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a U.S. government initiative that supports women entrepreneurs around the world.

Designed to cultivate entrepreneurial know-how, AWE helps women entrepreneurs connect with funding opportunities, enhance opportunities for business expansion, and increase the likelihood of entrepreneurial success. 

The AWE participants come from a range of backgrounds and levels of business expertise. The benefits of the AWE initiative will continue long after the program ends, as the participants apply skills learned to their own businesses and become part of a robust network of women business leaders.  

Working with local partner, Ascend Studios Foundation, founded by Inya Lawal, an alumna of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program, the U.S. Consulate has successfully supported the training of 470 women entrepreneurs through the AWE program to date with plans for future cohorts.  

This year’s participants included 50 repatriated irregular migrants who are in various stages of building their businesses. Their successful participation has equipped them with the requisite skills and knowledge they need to take their ventures to the next level while helping them to reintegrate into society. 

U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard explained that the U.S. government supports women’s full and free participation in the economy as they seek to thrive in the workforce, succeed as entrepreneurs, and create stability and prosperity in their communities. 

She expressed great pride in the graduates, acknowledging their commitment to the successful completion of the program despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have been impressed with the enthusiasm of the program’s participants and the expertise of the trainers,” Ambassador Leonard said at the AWE graduation ceremony held in Ile Ife, Osun State. “I know that you will carry this training forward, become leaders in your own right, and increase the success of your businesses and those of other women.”  

Ambassador Leonard welcomed the AWE graduates to the U.S. government exchange alumni community, a prestigious and vast network of like-minded and highly regarded professionals across the country. “I encourage you to take advantage of the exchange alumni group to continue to grow and support each other,” she added.  

AWE is centered around a three-month, rigorous online course called DreamBuilder, developed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and U.S. copper mining company Freeport

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