Make Every Woman Count is pleased to present to you our August highlight of the month, The African Women Power (AWP). AWP is a network organization, which showcases entrepreneurial stories including the business challenges and successes of African women and youth entrepreneurs. The African Women Power network began with the idea to provide business related content to African entrepreneurs anywhere in the world –with a particular focus on women and youth. The AWP network seeks to eradicate poverty through providing an online space, which enables a sense of community and promotes dialogue about entrepreneurship. The network is dedicated to offering business support and inspiration and seeks to promote a positive image of African women and youth.
Having begun in 2011 by a single tweet, AWP continues to grow and has since achieved over 600 followers. Not long after AWP was created, the organizations founder, Mary Olushoga was invited to speak on BBC about the fuel subsidy strike in Nigeria and since then, things have really taken off for AWP. With this exposure and great confidence The AWP network expanded beyond twitter into what it is today—a blog that features African women and youth in the US and Africa (awpnetwork.com). Mary has since spoken at Columbia University’s African Economic Forum and was awarded the GOOD Maker/Oxfam America International Women’s day challenge award. Mary continues to seek out opportunities to network and showcase AWP.
"I’m fascinated by young women entrepreneurs who are different and working in science, technology, and manufacturing," says AWP founder Mary Olushoga, who recently won the International Women’s Day challenge sponsored by GOOD Maker and Oxfam America.
Mary has told us that after having worked in the small business industry herself for several years, she saw how business support services could really help entrepreneurs grow and expand. Though Mary acknowledges that business in Africa is quite different from in the US, she feels a free and available business support service like AWP will only have positive and lasting results in both contexts.
She told MEWC, that “African women have always been entrepreneurial, so I am not promoting anything new - I think that supporting them can help some to grow and expand quickly, which in turn, will enable them to hire and create jobs for the unemployed.”
Like all organizations, despite their growing success, AWP has their unique limitations to overcome. For example branding and social media presence was outlined as a key challenge as well as a sound market penetration into African markts. Additiotnally, the lack of online access in many African countries limits AWP’s scope in accessing followers and disseminating information and resources where they are needed most. AWP is currently working to address this particular issue by exploring mobile technology.
How AWP Makes Women Count:
The AWP network makes African women and youths count by sharing their success stories and business challenges while providing online business education and resources such as webinars. The network will also soon host empowerment luncheons around the world.