US Embassy Launches Academy for Women Entrepreneurs in Belize
The US Embassy launched its inaugural Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Program, a global U.S. State Department initiative focused on empowering women entrepreneurs. Through mentorship, education, and access to resources, the eight-week program will equip women with the skills and knowledge to establish and expand successful businesses. The U.S. Embassy has partnered with Peacework Belize and Belizean alumni of State Department exchanges to engage over 30 women in Southside Belize City, who are the heads of their households. US Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan, expressed satisfaction and excitement at the collaboration and the planned outcomes.
Michelle Kwan, US Ambassador to Belize: “It was very inspiring to be in a room full of women entrepreneurs. This academy for women entrepreneurs is really giving these women the knowledge, the access and the networks they need to succeed. It’s an incredible eight-week program. It’s a hybrid approach which is in person and online so there’s a lot of flexibility. But it is setting them up for economic success. This initiative is its first ever. So in the remarks from Dr. Carol Babb and others it’s really an incredible partnership and initiative and AWE is actually an initiative that has been supported from the State Department but it’s in over 80 countries worldwide. And I hope it will continue because it’s really changing and giving the experience to these women who have ideas, have dreams, but really trying to figure out how to go from point A to point B to starting a business, from all the eight weeks of learning and it really gives them the tools that they need. It was powerful to hear Minister Ferguson talk about that and you see, you look around the room and you’re just so moved because these are women who have ideas, have interests, and this sets them up with the experiences and tools that they need to succeed. And it aligns really well with our national strategy of women’s empowerment, but women’s equity and equality across the board.”
The participants will learn sewing and design skills, principles of entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Successful program graduates will receive a sewing kit to bolster their newly established businesses, as explained by Dr Carol Babb, the Director of Peacework.
Dr.Carol Babb, Director, Peacework: “It’s initially for 30 women, single women, from South Side Belize. And I’ve gotten so many calls from so many women who want to be a part of it. And so I’m hoping that people who are listening, people who have the wherewithal, the support, that they would offer more programs. I’m calling on the Prime Minister, other people, other government officials, to help women to find themselves in this society, especially now when things are so difficult. I mean the cost of living is expensive and we need to empower these women to help themselves. It will actually be held for eight Saturdays. Eight Saturdays and so we are doing financial literacy, social emotional learning, entrepreneurship at the end of the program and they are also doing sewing by an expert seamstress, onelli. She does sewing by design. She doesn’t follow a catalog. You go in there and she create whatever work you want her to create and so they will be taught by her and I think that’s an awesome experience for them. At the end of the program all the participants, 30 plus we’ve extended it to 35. If they attend all the sessions they will each get your sewing machine, the sewing machines that you saw there and some materials to help them to start up their business. It’s free. They are going to be given all the material, they are going to be fed. It’s excellent. We had to have a criteria in place to do a selection. So we said women, single women, between the ages of 18 to 40, you must live on South Side Belize.”
Implemented in more than 80 countries worldwide, AWE is designed to foster the growth, innovation, and leadership of women entrepreneurs, creating a global network that supports economic progress, gender equality, and community development. With today’s launch, the US Embassy recognizes the unparalleled potential of Belizean women in driving innovation, economic growth, and social change, and increasing prosperity for all Belizeans