THIRTY Jamaican businesswomen celebrated the completion of a training course in entrepreneurship last Wednesday, as the curtains closed on the inaugural cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), Jamaica Chapter.
The programme, which is funded by US Department of State via the US Embassy in Jamaica, was facilitated by Kiddist Cowans, Ashagaye Mullings and Tishauna Mullings. Local partners Youth For Development Foundation, led by Andre Wilson, helped to facilitate the implementation of the programme.
The closing ceremony was held at the Courtyard by The Marriott in Kingston, with special guests Shani Duncan Falconer, senior corporate manager of JMMB's SME Resource Centre, and CEO of Zinergy International Ethnie Miller Simpson.
In bringing greetings on behalf of the US Embassy, counsellor for public affairs Jeremiah Knight noted that the ladies in the programme have set high standards for those who will come after to achieve. He mentioned that they are expected to also pay it forward and share the knowledge and expertise they have gained, and should endeavour to create lasting impacts for women in business in Jamaica.
Of the 30 participants, 15 ladies made it to the semi-finals of the Pitch Your AWEsome Dream competition. Ten of those women moved on to become finalists, and walked away from Wednesday's event with US$1,000 each towards their businesses.
Two participants, Dr Chenielle Delahaye-McKenzie of De La Enzie Essentials, and Kavelle Hylton of STEMBuilders Learning Hub, were invited to share testimonials of their experience, and both did so with zeal, enthusiasm and creativity. Both ladies testified that their businesses have benefited tremendously from the AWE programme.
The Jamaican women were among the first global cohort to benefit from the programme, which was launched in 26 regions, primarily in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. AWE is built around three main goals — to provide online education resources, foster networks that support access to mentorships, and connect women through existing exchange programmes.