In collaboration with the Ascend Studios Foundation, the U.S. Consulate General celebrated the graduation of 20 female returnees from the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Returned Migrant Training Program. The initiative aimed to facilitate the reintegration of returned migrants into society by equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary for entrepreneurship.
The program provided comprehensive business management training to the participants, covering topics such as financial management, marketing, operations, and human resources. Additionally, the women received mentorship and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts, including AWE alumnae.
Julie McKay, the U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer, emphasized the importance of creating an enabling environment for women’s economic participation. She highlighted that the economic empowerment of women contributes significantly to Nigeria’s long-term economic development. Women who are economically empowered tend to reinvest in their families and communities, fostering economic growth and global stability.
The program culminated in a business pitch competition inspired by the American television series “Shark Tank.” Participants presented their business ideas to a jury composed of AWE program graduates, competing for investment in their ventures. Oluwakemi Oladapo from Oyo State secured first place and received $2,000 in seed funding for her leather bag manufacturing business. Chylian Azuh from Delta State and Osunalele Osanyanmo from Edo State secured the second and third positions, earning $1,500 and $700 in seed funding, respectively.
Several participants shared their personal journeys, emphasizing the transformative impact of the program on their lives and businesses. Their stories underscored the potential of women entrepreneurs, particularly those from underserved communities, to overcome challenges and build successful businesses.
Inya Lawal, the Chief Executive Officer of Ascend Studios Foundation, commended the dedication of the participants throughout the program. She highlighted the opportunity for participants to connect with mentors and establish valuable connections for their entrepreneurial journeys.
The success of the U.S. Consulate’s AWE Returned Migrant Cohort demonstrates the positive outcomes achievable through inclusive entrepreneurship programs. Since 2019, 770 Nigerian businesswomen have participated in AWE, contributing to the empowerment and economic development of women in Nigeria.