WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — Recognizing that investing in women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is one of the best ways to accelerate economic and social growth, the U.S. Department of State announced today an international exchange that brings 34 women entrepreneurs to the United States to develop business networks with their U.S. colleagues.

A part of the U.S. Department of State’s Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in April at the Summit of the Americas, this exchange engages women entrepreneurs from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In addition, this exchange builds on Secretary Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools – in this case women’s entrepreneurship – to bring people together to foster greater understanding.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs:
The WEAmericas initiative leverages public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation and address key barriers that women confront when starting and growing businesses by:

1) Providing training and mentoring to women entrepreneurs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with a focus on business growth;

2) Supporting market access initiatives in countries throughout the region; and

3) Launching and expanding initiatives to facilitate access to credit and other financial services for women-owned SMEs.

Click here to learn more about WEAmericas: .

The WEAmericas exchange program will take place May 14-22, beginning with a three-day orientation in Washington, D.C. Then, the women entrepreneurs will travel to Kansas City, Missouri for trainings by the Kaufman Foundation. Next, they will conduct team visits to meet with their American counterparts in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, Texas for intensive business and management training. The exchange will conclude in Houston, Texas.