Suva, Fiji: Today, the U.S. Embassy in Suva held a graduation celebration for the fourth cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) with a record number of 156 graduates. Since 2020, the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs has mentored close to 500 Fijian women to establish and scale-up their businesses. The Women Entrepreneurs Business Council and the Makoi Women’s Vocational Centre facilitate this program through a comprehensive, seven-month long business skills development course, networking opportunities, and an outdoor market where students can sell their products and gain real-world experience.
U.S. Ambassador Marie C. Damour congratulated the 156 graduates on completing the course. In her opening remarks, Ambassador Damour said, “The U.S. Embassy is proud to be a partner in supporting a prosperous Fiji. The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent identifies economic development as one of its key thematic areas, and we join your leaders in our commitment to empower women such as yourselves to be active participants in economic life.”
The Ambassador also commended the graduates for the time and effort they invested in the program. “When women are empowered to earn their own income,” she said, “they are more likely to reinvest those earnings in their businesses and in their families. As families cross the poverty line and women’s livelihoods expand, entire communities benefit. Put simply, when women do better, everyone else does better.”
The Minister for Women, Children, and Social Protection Lynda Tabuya also attended the ceremony, where she met with graduates and learned first-hand how AWE helped them turn their dreams into viable businesses.
The Ambassador concluded the ceremony by recognizing the contributions of the AWE program facilitators and partner organizations that supported the AWE program in 2023.