African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) 2023 for Female Business Owners
AWEC is the accelerant behind hundreds of African female entrepreneurs who have transformed and grown their businesses. We are seeking the next 200 women who are ready to join our cohort for a high-impact applied learning experience.
From 16 January 2023 – 29 January 2023, AWEC is accepting applications for its highly selective leadership and business management capacity building program. This program is designed for African women entrepreneurs seeking to expand their knowledge, increase their skills, broaden their network, and make lifelong connections.
The AWEC Opportunity
What to Expect
The AWEC program is rigorous and time intensive. Fellows should expect to:
- Be actively engaged in learning and networking for the entirety of the 12 month program (May 2023-April 2024)
- Spend an average of 4 to 6 hours per week participating in AWEC activities, primarily online
- Participate in at least one AWEC activity per week throughout the program year
- Be challenged, stretched, and inspired as they acquire new knowledge
- Develop skills, build their peer network, and transform their businesses
- Be matched with a mentor and take ownership of their mentor/mentee relationship
- Be introduced to a peer group and actively contribute to group discussions and activities
- Gain access to a program advisor from whom they can seek support when needed
- Respond to periodic surveys to improve the overall AWEC experience
How You Will Benefit
Upon successful completion of the 12-month program, Fellows will:
- Form connections with a diverse network of African women entrepreneurs
- Establish a relationship with a senior business mentor
- Strengthen strategy, leadership and business management skills
- Gain skills in finance, marketing, and strategy needed to grow and scale their enterprise
- Develop a toolkit of soft skills, including self-confidence, resilience, collaboration, and cross-cultural communications
AWEC Fellow, Emilly O. from Kenya says it best:
“I enjoy the practicability of the content. I am able to apply literally everything that I learn, I have seen a huge potential of my business and so far, I have expanded my market reach, especially online.”
Cohort 6 will run from May 2023 to April 2024. Monthly activities take place individually and as a group; please expect to participate in 2-3 Zoom-enabled meetings per month between the hours of 1-5pm UTC.
Who Should Apply
Women who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply:
- Current or aspiring entrepreneurs working in any industry and in any country on the continent
- Citizens of any African country, currently living on the continent or in the diaspora
- Founders of for-profit or social enterprises
- Comfortable with remote teamwork and collaboration, especially using digital tools
- Proficient in verbal and written English
- Regular (at least weekly) access to the Internet through a computer or tablet
AWEC admissions do not discriminate based on race, religion, age, disability, marital status, education, business revenue, geographic location, sector, or industry.
Please note: For those living in the diaspora, your business must clearly impact Africa.
What We Look For
AWEC seeks to build diverse cohorts in which Fellows share some consistent characteristics:
- Resilience as individuals and entrepreneurs
- Commitment to building scalable and sustainable businesses
- Collaborative spirit
- Desire to build a pan-African peer network
- Empathetic leaders
Think you are a good fit for AWEC? Prepare for the application process using our five-week challenge!
Traits of a Strong Application
Out of the thousands of applications we receive each year, we only accept 200 applicants per year to join AWEC. This means that we seek out the best of the best. Below are a few key traits we look out for in the applications we read. We hope you consider them as you prepare your application.
Demonstrate Business Clarity: The ability to clearly communicate your business value proposition, combined with a strong understanding of your industry is a key indication of a strong application. Without a clear, succinct description of the problem you are solving and how your business is providing a unique solution, it is difficult to understand your business and effectively evaluate the rest of your application. Strong applicants go beyond articulating what their businesses do; they provide a compelling explanation of how they solve problems and why they were motivated to start their businesses.
Demonstrate a Growth Mindset : If you previously applied to AWEC but did not get in, we want to hear about what you have done in the months that have passed since you last applied to grow your business. This demonstrates 1) why you are a stronger applicant this year, and 2) your commitment to personal and business growth. And while it is beneficial to be able to demonstrate business growth over the past 2-3 years (in terms of increased revenue, customers, and/or employees), successful applications also provide thoughtful explanations for business challenges and lay out plans to overcome these obstacles.
Understand Your Market: Applicants who demonstrated strong industry experience were able to clearly articulate the problem they were trying to solve – typically from a gap they spotted while working in the industry. They were able to provide data to illustrate the size of their target market and current customer base which helped them come across as more knowledgeable and confident with clear action steps to achieve their vision. Before applying, do your research to fully understand your target market and think critically about who your target customers are.
Prepare for Risks and Threats: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended the global economy and impacted millions of business owners, it is critical for entrepreneurs to identify and plan for risks. Strong applicants clearly articulate the risks and threats within their industry. They propose actionable steps to mitigate these risks and threats, demonstrating their knowledge and command over their individual businesses and the industry in which they operate, helping them stand out in a crowded field.
Have Clear and Specific Goals: Strong applicants share an honest understanding of their personal and professional areas for growth and clearly explain how their participation in the AWEC program could address those growth areas. They highlight what skills they want to develop, how the program would benefit them at this moment in time, and how they plan to pay it forward by sharing what they learn with their wider community.
Understand AWEC: Strong applicants do their homework. They spend time on the AWEC website, learning about the different program offerings, requirements to participate and the overall mission of the program. They consider all of these elements and weigh them against their individual needs as an entrepreneur.
For more Information: Visit the website for African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC)