Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke with participants in the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) in Lusaka, Zambia, on June 10, 2011. Zambia has just completed hosting a follow-on conference to the 2010 (AWEP) that took place in conjunction with the 2010 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.
AWEP was established in 2010 under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). The women of the 2010 AWEP visitors program were accomplished entrepreneurs and leaders of small and medium-sized businesses in Africa. AWEP aims to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business network by:
- Increasing opportunities for women to use the AGOA program.
- Expanding opportunities for exports and U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Recognizing and expanding the roles women play as advocates for changes in laws, regulations, customs, and incentives that support women in businesses in their countries.
- Instituting a follow-up program so that participants, in their role as community leaders, can pass on what they learn.
Secretary Clinton said, "... I know very well that many women throughout Africa are businesswomen who face obstacles, who persevere, who persist against those obstacles. And we want to help you, so I'm thrilled that AWEP has gained so much momentum and signed up so many new members.
"In my speech in a few minutes, I'm going to speak specifically about what we can do and why we need to make it easier for women to start and grow your businesses. I'm also going to talk about you, if you don't mind. I want to make sure everyone here, all the commerce ministers, the trade and industry ministers, the prime ministers, everyone, knows how important your work is.
"And I'm going to announce in a few minutes that the United States will continue to support AWEP. Last year's event in Washington was such a success and again this year in Lusaka. We are going to have a commitment that I will announce in order to help you exchange ideas, learn from each other, support each other. I understand the Zambian women are hosting their sisters from other countries, and we want a network of women entrepreneurs across Africa, because I am convinced we will raise the incomes and the standards of living of people throughout the continent because of what you do.
"And I'll have some examples of that in my formal remarks, but I wanted to come and just thank you, to see you again, and to wish all of you well, but to express great appreciation on behalf of the United States for what you do every day to help people have a better life. That's what it's all about. Business is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end, to be able to educate children, to be able to have a better home, to be able to provide healthcare, to build economies and create more opportunities. And you are living examples of that."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.