Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Certificate Ceremony – Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s

Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan presenting a certificate to a cohort.

Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s As Prepared Remarks
at the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Certificate Ceremony 
YALI RLC Presidential Hall, GIMPA 
November 26, 2019, 11:00am-12:30pm 2 pm – 3:30? 

Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, (GIMPA);
Professor Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, 
Deputy Rector, Professor Philip Duku Osei;
GIMPA leadership, faculty and staff;
YALI Regional Leadership Center Director, 
Dr. Shola Safo-Duodo;
Members of the media;
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen;
Especially our Academy of Women Entrepreneurs graduates 
we are honoring here today;
All protocols observed.

Good morning! / Good afternoon!  I’m really thrilled to be with you all today. 

Just a few months ago, in June, I was honored to join U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce, in launching the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (that has the best acronym ever: AWE) right here on the GIMPA campus.  We are all delighted that Ghana was selected as a pilot country for the AWE program. 

Today you, AWE’s very first cohort in Ghana are concluding an incredible journey of acquiring new knowledge, skills, and the confidence to take your businesses to the next level.     

I love the energy in this room! 

AWE is the State Department’s flagship program supporting the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), launched by White House Advisor Ivanka Trump in February, right next door in Cote d’Ivoire.  W-GDP has the ambitious goal of reaching 50 million women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential.  

All of us here today know how much women business owners contribute to, and drive Ghana’s economic prosperity,  in both the informal and formal sectors. We know that when women succeed, children are healthier and better educated, and communities thrive.  

This principle is at the heart of the AWE program.   

Designed for busy working women like today’s graduates, AWE is a facilitated online course divided into 13 modules.  Participants complete one module per week and gather once a week for an informative session facilitated by trainers and subject matter experts. These sessions become a haven for the participants over the 13-week course, giving the women time dedicated solely to improving their businesses.  

As many a busy working woman can attest, time is a precious commodity, and I commend all of our AWE Cohort One participants for taking the time and making the commitment to invest in your professional growth. I am confident you and your businesses will see positive results in the near future.        

I know that you have all been working on your business plans as well throughout the Dreamweaver course. Among our inaugural AWE cohort participants, we have pastry chefs, fashion designers, skin and hair care product creators, caterers, interior designers, online grocers, cleaning suppliers, and garment manufacturers, to name just a few!  

We are certain that with the AWE certification, you will each go on to strengthen and grow your respective businesses.  

On a personal note, I would also urge all of you to stay connected to your new network and continue to support one another. Throughout my career I have relied on the advice and wisdom of my elders, my peers, and my friends, and I make an effort do the same for others. This spirit of solidarity and friendship brings to mind one of my favorite African sayings: “The path to a friend’s house is never far.”  

May this be true for all of your entrepreneurial journeys. Make time to support each other even as you are busy chasing your dreams. It is also important to strengthen and grow your networks.

My special thanks go to the Embassy’s tireless partner in implementing the AWE program, the YALI Regional Leadership Center team, under the direction of Dr. Shola Safo-Duodo.  When this program was announced, we immediately knew you were the right partner to help us get AWE off the ground in Ghana, and you have done so well – Ayekoo! 

My team and I are also grateful to the powerful network of alumnae women entrepreneurs and business leaders who have taken the time to facilitate the Dreamweaver courses. These are your “elder sisters” and “aunties” who have collaborated with Shola and the RLC team to bring the AWE program to life.  

Representing the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), the Fortune Women’s Mentoring Program, and the Mandela Washington Fellowship, these women have mentored and supported our AWE participants.   

Brigitte, Nana Yaa, Adjo, Innocentia and Nana Charlotte – please stand so we can applaud you.  Wayade3! 

Finally, I would like to thank the families of the AWE participants for supporting your sisters, wives, mothers, and daughters in their pursuit of entrepreneurial success. Know that when we are organizing training courses such as AWE that focus exclusively on women, we are not seeking better treatment for women than men.  Rather, we believe women should be treated as equals with the same rights and opportunities as our male counterparts.   

It bears repeating: when women succeed, the whole family succeeds! 

I’ll close by sharing my pride in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that has powered the U.S. economy and paved the way for prosperity and stability.

That said, American entrepreneurship has been male-dominated for most of our history. We can do better!  

Those of you here today and those whom you will empower have an opportunity to write a new story of powerful women entrepreneurs who become the driving force for increased peace and prosperity throughout Africa and the world.  

I believe your cohort motto says it all: AWE – Women without Limits!  

Thank you, and congratulations again to all of you!