Public diplomacy officer for the US Embassy in Zimbabwe, Becca Archer-Knepper has called on women entrepreneurs to push for sustainable economic development in the country by investing in business initiatives that create jobs for their community members as they are the backbone of the country’s economy.
Archer-Knepper said this last Friday in Mutare while addressing at least 14 female entrepreneurs who graduated from United States Embassy’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program.
AWE is a platform aimed at assisting female entrepreneurs to successfully realise their absolute potential.
“Because of your participation in the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, we expect you to have increased income, that you will create jobs in your communities and expand your operations.
“We expect this from you because we have seen this time and again from other AWE graduates, that you are able to have the skills to grow and make your dreams come true.
“Women Entrepreneurs are key to economic success, you promote equitable access to resources and you invest in your communities. Your efforts are really the backbone of Zimbabwe. We are stepping our efforts to strengthen your skills to be competitive, perform better, and create networks that support each other and build an exclusive economy that works for everyone,” she said.
She commended the AWE 2023 Manicaland participants for setting up a cooperative called Kumakomo Women Entrepreneurs Savings and Credit Cooperative.
“Your business skills and your pride in being Zimbabwean will help. Use Zimbabwe’s abundant resources to build strong businesses and inspire other women in your communities to be financially independent,” Archer-Knepper said.
AWE Zimbabwe coordinator Thubelihle Ndlovu said the program is highly sought after because the results speak for itself.
“Over 75percent of the women who complete the AWE program get to formalise, monetise and put structure to their business ideas and ventures and more than 30percent hire more staff while 90percent of them increase their earnings,” Ndlovu said.
Jestina Mare , director for Global Customs Solutions, a company which specialises in customs clearing ,was awarded a US$1000 grant after being successful in a pitch competition for 2023 AWE graduates.
“I am going to use the money I won from the seed fund to expand my business and make sure we deal with other areas that we were not dealing with when we initially started our business,” Mare said.
Precious Guwira a paper florist who also graduated expressed gratitude for being part of this year’s AWE program.
“I learnt a lot. I now have the zeal and the power to push my business initiative to the greater heights,” Guwira said.