Strengthening the Bottom Line with African Women CEOs
August 6, 2014
On August 6, AWEP hosted two side-events on the margins of the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit. The first event was a panel discussion, “Accessing New Markets and Global Supply Chains”, which was followed by the AWEP Business-to-Business Showcase and Reception. The panel was moderated by Liz Cullen Whitehead, Director of Women’s Business Development at WEConnect International, and included panelists from ExxonMobil, Marriott International, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and United Bank of Africa (UBA).
The workshop discussed concrete steps that African women entrepreneurs can take to access new international or regional markets and integrate their businesses with global supply chains. The workshop discussed the obstacles facing Africa-based small and growing businesses (SGBs) as they aim to capture new customers and gain inclusion in global value chains and the steps that SGBs can take to mitigate these challenges.
The AWEP Showcase and Reception featured 39 African women entrepreneurs who showed their products to an audience of US-based corporate buyers, NGOs and government officials. The Showcase included opening remarks from Cathy Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State and Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, U. S. Department of State.
The event also included special remarks by:
- Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America
- Michele Sullivan, President of the Caterpillar Foundation
- Kathryn Karol, Vice President of Global Government and Corporate Affairs, Caterpillar
- Charles Rivkin, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Approximately 200 people attended the event. The entrepreneurs exhibiting at the event were AWEP members or participants in the 2014 cohort of U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The entrepreneurs were suppliers from such sectors as fashion, cosmetics, processed foods, home décor, and textiles. Exhibitors showcased a diverse range of products including financial services geared to women-owned SGBs, vanilla pods from the Comoros and copper jewelry from Zambia.
The event was co-sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Caterpillar Foundation, Meridian International Center and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Attendees and AWEP entrepreneurs at the B2B showcase