ACT’s 2019 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Program

Greetings fellow entrepreneurs!

Happy New Year to you all! We hope you are ready for the new year and excited about new challenges and goals! We also hope you have enjoyed our posts on the HCD training program and the Business Growth Program.

To begin the year, we are excited to introduce our new program focusing on women: the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs. As you know our entire programming is centered on supporting youth and entrepreneurs and how better to empower women entrepreneurs than by giving them a platform to learn, interact and network? To give credit where it is due, The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is the brainchild of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is designed to empower women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential by promoting an enabling environment that facilitates women’s participation in the economy.

The program was officially launched on the 6th of September 2019 with the participation of 100 women spread amongst three urban centers, one in Harare being facilitated by ACT in Africa, another one in Bulawayo being facilitated by Portify Investments and the last one in Mutare under Maoko. The program runs over six months and consists of fortnightly in-person meetings supplemented by a digital learning platform called “DreamBuilder”.

AWE is committed to providing women with the knowledge, networks, and access they need to turn their ideas into reality, realign existing businesses to market needs and grow their businesses. This program is unique as the facilitated workshops localize the learnings and experiences of the entrepreneurs in a manner that promotes collective economic prosperity through peer-to-peer mentorship, module-specific guidance and practice.

The women selected last year run businesses in fashion and handicrafts, food, health and fitness, logistics, manufacturing, and the services sector. Some of the topics covered include the practical design of business plans, raising capital, and learning how to connect with networks. We can hear cheers of joy from fellow women entrepreneurs reading this so we will give you some insight into the experiences of some of the participants on their experience with the program to date.

When talking to women entrepreneurs the most valued aspect of the program is often self-actualization and self-worth. As one of the entrepreneurs highlighted:

“What inspired me to start my business was wanting to do something for myself. A lot of the time, you get into a situation where the answer seems to be to go and look for a job. I had just relocated trying to find out where I fit in, I needed something to validate myself with, something that shows I can create something of my own.

Tendai Simbanegavi – Treat

While another mentioned the following;

“Hardworking women are out there to support each other, the program challenges me to do things differently in my business. I was having challenges with pricing; with the recent pricing model we did, I have information to guide me on how I should be pricing…One of the best parts for me was when we discussed having a pivot in business; when you have to sit down and analyse what’s working, what’s not working, what you can do differently and what changes can be made?”

Ruth Ogbechi - Roulayagency

The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs program is still running, and the first cohort is graduating in March where they will get an opportunity to showcase their businesses and network as a group with participants from Harare, Bulawayo, and Mutare. We look forward to telling you more about the graduation and showcase work by the 2019 participants.

Until next month!

The ACT Team

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