U.S. Department of StateWASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), a special initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program, runs from July 22-August 9, 2013. Thirty women entrepreneurs from 27 African countries arrive in the United States this week to look at ways to grow their small and medium businesses. The U.S. Government is committed to empowering women and supporting entrepreneurship to spur economic growth around the world.

Now in its fourth year, AWEP elevates women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa who are transforming their societies through business and are voices for social advocacy in their communities. The participants travel to cities across the United States to visit local businesses, business incubators, schools, and non-governmental organizations.

The participants begin their program in Chicago, and then split into smaller groups based on their expertise to travel to Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, or Albuquerque. The entire AWEP group then comes together to travel to New York City and Washington, DC.

The women represent Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Once they return home, the women connect with AWEP chapters in more than a dozen countries, where they work with AWEP alumnae to mentor women in their communities and share their experiences.