Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (TIES):
“Strengthening Business and Trade for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa”
Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s Remarks
Marriott, Accra, June 28, 2019 | 2:00 pm
I am very happy to speak with you all today. I know that Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce was with you for the opening on Wednesday. I am excited to feel the energy in this room as you wrap up what I hope has been a productive seminar to strengthen business and trade for women entrepreneurs in Africa.
My special thanks to the State Department’s Office of Alumni Affairs, which regularly organizes these Alumni TIES seminars worldwide in partnership with the NGO “World Learning.” We are glad you chose Ghana to host this particular TIES seminar, and I am pleased to lead the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship on several fronts. In addition to hosting this seminar, we just launched the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (or AWE) this week in Ghana. I know you saw the AWE video during Assistant Secretary Royce’s keynote address.
The Embassy also collaborates with an active network of entrepreneurs through the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, known as AWEP, and a dynamic group of women corporate and business leaders though the Fortune Women’s Mentoring Program. And, there are many women entrepreneurs and business leaders who are alumnae of programs such as the YALI Mandela Washington fellowship, the YALI Regional Leadership Center, and YALI Tech Camps. If you are here today as a participant, it’s because you are a leader with a proven track record.
You are all exceptional Alumni, and you stood out enough to be selected to attend this seminar. We are proud of our vibrant network of women leaders and entrepreneurs here in Ghana, some of whom are participating in this seminar. Ghana is rightly seen as a regional leader for peace and stability. There is no doubt that this is due in part to the positive influence of strong women leaders and business owners, both in the formal and informal sectors.
As the saying goes: to whom much is given, much is expected. I urge and encourage the Ghanaians here today to extend a hand and reach out to your Alumni network and contacts from other countries who look to Ghana as a model. For those from other countries at this seminar, I also urge you to expand your network and seek out those who can benefit from your knowledge and experiences, the way that you are benefiting from this seminar.
For each one of you fortunate enough to be here, there are millions of women in your home countries who need support, who need mentorship, and who need a network of others who believe in them. You can be this support for many other women. And for our male participants, yes, we have a few here! Your sisters, wives, mothers, daughters, and friends need you, too, in order to succeed! Know that when we organize seminars such as this one that focuses on women entrepreneurs, we are not seeking for women to be treated better than men, but rather to be treated as equals, with the same rights and opportunities.
We at the Embassy are fortunate to be in the position to offer women entrepreneurs support, whether through exchange programs, seminars, networking opportunities, or small grant funds. And we find that you, the participants, pay this back 10-fold or 100-fold when you go back to your communities and empower others. Keep doing what you’re doing!
I’ll close by saying that as an American, I incredibly proud of the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that has powered the U.S. economy and paved the way for prosperity and stability to flourish. That said, American entrepreneurship has been male-dominated for most of our history, before and after the equal-rights movement of the 1960s. Those of you here today and those whom you will empower have an opportunity to change the narrative for this continent to a story of powerful women entrepreneurs and captains of industry who become the driving force for peace and prosperity throughout Africa.
Thank you all very much.