Forging Stronger Business Partnerships, African Women Entrepreneurs Travel to United States for Three-Week International Exchange

Media Note
Washington, DC
September 16, 2011

Working to strengthen economic partnerships between the United States and Africa, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today that 43 African women business leaders will travel to the United States September 19 through October 7 as part of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with a group of African Women’s Entrepreneurs in June during the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Zambia.

These women entrepreneurs will meet and network with U.S. policy makers, companies and industry associations, civil society groups, non-profit organizations advocating for women’s economic opportunities, multi-lateral development organizations, and business alliances. They will travel to Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO;
Louisville, KY; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Orlando, FL; Pensacola, FL; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; Santa Fe, NM; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Tulsa, OK, and Washington, DC.

The U.S. portion of this initiative kicks-off in Chicago on September 19 and will feature a keynote address by Desiree Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing Company. While in Chicago, the group will tour and meet with business owners from six local businesses to share best practices, hosted by Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). In New York, the group will participate in an event sponsored by the RAND African First Ladies Initiative and the Corporate Council of Africa featuring Cherie Blair, the former First Lady of the United Kingdom. After breaking off into smaller groups for travel to mid-sized cities, these women will come together in Washington, DC for meetings with senior U.S. officials, businesses, and civil society.

Already, the African Women Entrepreneurship Program has empowered small business owners and provided them the tools to export under the terms of AGOA. Others are working to increase their export capacities and establish business relationships with U.S. partners. Following the success of the inaugural class of African women entrepreneurs in 2010, ExxonMobil committed to funding two more follow-on trainings in Africa in partnership with Vital Voices.

This initiative, which first began in 2010, works to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business networks by:
  • Increasing opportunities for women to use the AGOA program;
  • Expanding opportunities for exports and U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Recognizing and expanding the roles women play as advocates for changes in laws, regulations, customs, and incentives that support women in businesses in their countries; and
  • Instituting a follow-up program so that participants, in their role as community leaders, can pass on what they learn.
The women participating in this current program hail from Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

For more information, contact Talley Sergent, U.S. Department of State, at

    PRN: 2011/1516


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