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United States Consulate Empowers 20 Female Returned Migrants through Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

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LAGOS, Nigeria, September 27, 2023/ — On Monday, the U.S. Consulate General in collaboration with Ascend Studios Foundation celebrated the successful completion of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Returned Migrant training program.

To support the comprehensive reintegration of returned migrants, 20 female returnees were selected to participate in the program. The participants received business management training that covered financial management, marketing, operations, human resources, and more. They also received mentorship and guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts, including AWE alumnae.

At the event, U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Julie McKay delivered remarks highlighting the importance of promoting an enabling environment that reduces barriers and facilitates women’s full participation in the economy.  McKay noted that the program was designed to foster the resilience, creativity, and determination of returnee women to create successful and sustainable businesses.

“Women’s empowerment and economic integration are key to Nigeria’s long-term economic development,” McKay said. “When women are economically empowered, they re-invest in their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that spurs economic growth and contributes to global peace and stability.”

Inspired by the American Series ––Shark Tank–– the returned migrants also pitched their business ideas at the closing event to a jury, comprised of graduates of the AWE program, to invest in their businesses. Oluwakemi Oladapo from Oyo State won first prize in the business pitch competition.  In recognition of her outstanding performance, the U.S. Consulate General awarded her $2,000 in seed funding to enhance her leather bag manufacturing business.  Chylian Azuh, budding entrepreneur from Delta State, and Osunalele Osanyanmo, a promising businesswoman from Edo State, secured the second and third positions and received $1,500 and $700 in seed funding, respectively.

Some of the participants shared their personal journeys, highlighting the transformative impact of the program on their lives and businesses. Their stories resonated with the audience, showcasing the potential of women entrepreneurs, particularly women from underserved communities to overcome challenges, start and scale successful businesses.

Chief Executive Officer of Ascend Studios Foundation, Ms. Inya Lawal, lauded the commitment and dedication demonstrated by the participants throughout the program. “The AWE returned migrant cohort presented a unique opportunity for the participants to connect with mentors and foster invaluable connections for their entrepreneurial journeys. We look forward to witnessing their continued growth and success,” Lawal added.

The success of the U.S. Consulate’s AWE Returned Migrant Cohort serves as an example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved through inclusive entrepreneurship programs. Since 2019, 770 Nigerian businesswomen have participated in AWE.

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