Maputo — Mozambique's first Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, and US Ambassador Douglas Griffiths on Friday signed a memorandum of certification to implement the African Women's Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) in Mozambique.
AWEP is a programme launched by former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2010, intended to assist women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the State Department's website “approximately 30 women entrepreneurs from across Africa arrive in the United States each year to attend professional development meetings and network with U.S. policy makers, companies, industry associations, nonprofit groups, and multilateral development organizations. The three-week program allows the AWEP participants to share best practices, discuss common challenges and learn about the global economy and factors that lead to long-term business growth”.
Maria Guebuza, who has agreed to sponsor AWEP in Mozambique, said “only with training and capacity building that meets the challenges of a growing and technically competitive business market can we have more women entrepreneurs, creating more jobs and more income generating activities”.
Griffiths claimed that AWEP offers women a valuable space to gain access to resources and expand business opportunities, as well as disseminating information about the tools available for women business people.
“Although African women are already producing all kinds of products, this programme can help them prepare their goods and services for the international markets”, the ambassador said.
He added that AWEP seeks to inspire the next generation of young women to become the motors of development of the private sector which Mozambique will need to create more employment and prosperity for its citizens.
He recognised that Mozambican women in business face the same obstacles as women in other parts of the world in access to bank credit, in hiring the best staff, in dealing with high transport costs, and in facing discrimination.
Women should thus help each other, he said, and build strong networks of cooperation that can promote and encourage other female entrepreneurs.
At the ceremony, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Armando Inroga, said that Mozambique exported 77.4 million dollars' worth of goods to the United States in 2013, notably previous and semi-precious stones, fruit, tobacco and fisheries produce.
He added that AWEP could help improve the business environment for Mozambican women entrepreneurs “since we have areas of activity with a high female participation and with potential to export to the American market”.