SUVA – 92 women graduated today from the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) at the U.S. Embassy. Chargé d’Affaires Tony Greubel welcomed the first AWE cohort, their families, leadership from implementing organizations, and members of the Fijian government at U.S. Embassy Suva to celebrate the occasion. The Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Honorable Mereseini Vuniwaqa was the chief guest. She imparted words of encouragement to the graduates and congratulated them in their success.
CDA Greubel said, “Today we are here to celebrate the 92 women graduating from AWE. These entrepreneurs showcase Fiji’s diversity and strength. They represent a mix of ages, locations around Fiji, and business experience, but all made the most of this opportunity. The participants and facilitators gathered here today spent the last seven months working together to learn vital business principals such as planning, marketing, and financial literacy. They made the time to invest in themselves. This investment will yield dividends for their businesses, families, and communities for years to come.”
Last year, U.S. Embassy Suva granted US$17,360 to the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) and Makoi Women’s Vocational Centre to implement AWE – a global U.S. State Department program – for the first time in the Pacific region. The AWE grant allowed for trained facilitators from WEBC and the Makoi Women’s Vocational Centre to guide women business owners through an entrepreneurship training program. The facilitators, who are also local business experts, led 14 workshops over seven months in vital areas of business management while also elaborating on Fiji-specific topics to guide the new entrepreneurs.
The women who took part in AWE came from a range of backgrounds and levels of business expertise. For seven months they learned together and kept each other accountable to complete this program. The benefits of the AWE program will continue long after the program ends, as the participants applied skills learned through AWE to their own businesses and became part of a robust network of women business leaders.
Last month, U.S. Embassy Suva signed another grant with WEBC and Makoi Women’s Vocational Centre for US$23,000 to expand the AWE program from six to seven groups, reaching a total of 130 women on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Applications open this week for the AWE 2021 Cohort.