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U.S. Embassy Launches New Initiative to Support Malaysian Women Entrepreneurs
September 8, 2020

group of people
(U.S. Embassy photo)

Today, Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir and Secretary-General for the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Dr. Junaidah binti Kamarruddin officiated the Malaysia launch of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a flagship U.S. government program under the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative.  Through AWE, women entrepreneurs around the globe are participating in a facilitated business development program.  AWE aims to help women reach their full economic potential and create conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.

In Malaysia, the U.S. Embassy is partnering with the Women Entrepreneur Network Association (WENA) to implement AWE.  Under this program, 30 aspiring women entrepreneurs were selected from among hundreds of applicants from four regional areas: Klang valley, Kedah, Kelantan and Sabah.  Over the course of the year-long program, AWE participants will take part in a facilitated online learning program, receive supplementary skills training from WENA, be assigned mentors and have access to micro-financing for their businesses.

The Academy of Women Entrepreneurs is part of the Embassy’s Wanita Empowered campaign to promote equality in opportunity, support growth and strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Malaysia.  Investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits, not only for individual women, but also for families, communities, and countries.

Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, U.S. Ambassador: “Throughout the Wanita Empowered Campaign, the U.S. Embassy will be engaging in programs and initiatives at the grassroots level, including AWE, as a sign of our commitment.  Actions speak louder than words and the 30 women who are embarking on this journey with us through AWE are remarkable.  As individuals and collectively, they epitomize the potential of all women in our societies.”

Nuraizah Shamsul Baharin, WENA President: “WENA believes in promoting women of substance through entrepreneurship. With the recent pandemic causing unprecedented hardships especially for women businesses in the macro and informal sector, we see the immediate need to strengthen these businesses.  The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, supplemented by WENA’s business growth program is indeed timely and we hope that a year-long project will create sustainable growth and impact.  We are excited to embark on this journey with the US Embassy KL.”

AWE Participant Nur Hazian Ghazali, Founder BeeBudz: Started in 2016, BeeBudz was created with the idea to replace kids’ snacks into something much healthier than chocolates & candies. Founder and Managing Director Ms. Nur Hazian Ghazali strives to create awareness on the misconception of honey and bees and promote the health benefits of honey for children.  “I am so excited to be selected in the AWE. BeeBudz has been badly affected during the pandemic and this opportunity has helped boost my self-confidence to continue pursuing my dreams. Thank you WENA and US Embassy!”

Link to photos

About Academy for Women Entrepreneurs
In 2019, the United States launch the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, the first whole-of-government approach towards advancing women’s economic empowerment. W-GDP aims to reach 50 million women across the world by 2025 and has already impacted over 12 million.  The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a flagship program under W-GDP.

AWE is centered around the online training program, DreamBuilder, developed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management.  The program equips women with the tools needed to create and grow their own businesses, raise capital, and effectively network with other successful business owners.  DreamBuilder is available in over 65 countries, with over 100,000 learners worldwide.  The DreamBuilder Network, established by alumnae, continues to build a national network of business advisors that have become key partners in U.S. entrepreneurship promotion activities.

Assigned mentors will closely monitor participants on their engagement with the content and assignments provided in the DreamBuilder modules.  Apart from this, WENA will include additional soft and hard skills training such as public speaking, project management, mentorship, registering a business, civic responsibility, complying with local tax regulations, and tips on building the women-support-women ecosystem.

To continue building on AWE’s momentum, WENA will introduce a micro-financing scheme in which selected AWE participants will be given a loan of RM1,000 to help boost their business performance.  This is a year-long program commencing in September 2020.

More on AWE here: https://eca.state.gov/awe?page=1

More on Dreambuilder here: https://dreambuilder.org/

Association of Bumiputra Women Entrepreneur Network of Malaysia (WENA)
WENA is Malaysia’s leading network for women entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals.  Established in September 2003, WENA is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to help more Bumiputra women invest in the skills and knowledge essential to grow their potential in business professionally.

WENA:  http://www.wena.my/about-wena/