Driving the Economy: African Women Entrepreneurship Program Kicks Off June 4 in New York with Fashion Designer and Philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 30, 2012

The U.S. Department of State announced today that the third annual Africa Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) will kick-off its international exchange component in New York on June 4. Leading off the program, fashion designer, philanthropist and Chairman/Founder of DVF Studio LP, Diane von Furstenberg will participate in a conversation with the women, who hail from the fashion and textile industry, agribusiness, and home décor. Following the program opening, they will split into sector specific groups to connect with their American counterparts, including ABC Carpet and Home, Adiree PR, Anthropologie, Cristina DosSantos Design, Decoration and Design Building, Global Table, Hunts Point Market, Indego Africa, Organic Shea Butter, and Tory Burch LLC.

Media interested in covering the conversation with Diane von Furstenberg on Monday, June 4, should R.s.v.p. no later than June 1 to Katie Leasor, U.S. Department of State, at LeasorK@state.gov. This event will take place at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, located at 799 United Nations Plaza in New York.

The African Women Entrepreneurship Program is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that works with African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth; increase trade both regionally and to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); create better business environments; and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities.

For three weeks, 47 African women entrepreneurs from 37 countries will engage in professional development training and networking opportunities with American counterparts from civil society, corporations, industry associations, non-profit organizations, and multilateral development organizations throughout the United States. The women will develop business partnerships, attend workshops on accessing capital and U.S. markets, and learn best business practices to build their women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their home countries. Click here to learn more.

Investing in women's entrepreneurship helps yield stronger economies and communities, that’s why Secretary Clinton put women and girls at the center of this country’s foreign policy priorities. Through AWEP, the Department of State also advances the Secretary’s Policy Guidance on Promoting Gender Equality through civic and economic participation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Following the opening in New York, the women entrepreneurs will split into smaller groups based on their sector-specific expertise and will travel to Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco, CA; Kalamazoo, MI; Greenville, NC; Santa Fe, NM; Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. They will then travel to Washington, D.C. June 14-15 to participate in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Forum at the U.S. Department of State. They will conclude their three-week exchange in Cincinnati, OH, where they will attend the U.S.-Africa Business Conference June 21-22.

At the conclusion of the exchange, alumnae have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s three regional trade hubs in Botswana, Kenya, and Ghana to increase international export competitiveness and intra-regional trade. The State Department has also partnered with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, ExxonMobil Foundation, Intel Corporation, and the Vital Voices Global Partnership to provide follow-on activities for the more than 100 alumnae of the AWEP program.

PRN: 2012/861