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Diplomacy in Action

Video Remarks for AWEP Kenya Chapter Launch

Cynthia Akuetteh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Washington, DC
May 7, 2013


Hello and greetings from Washington, DC.  I am Cynthia Akuetteh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the African Affairs Bureau, and I'm sorry I'm not there with you today in Nairobi, but on behalf of the Africa Bureau here at the State Department, please accept our warmest wishes for a successful launch of the AWEP Kenya chapter.

AWEP is the Department’s signature women’s economic and civic engagement program that has built a network of approximately 122 women entrepreneurs in 48 sub-Saharan African countries to transform societies through business development and become voices of social advocacy in their communities.  We are very proud of this program and the privilege to partner with dynamic African businesswomen.

Today, Kenya joins the ranks of a growing AWEP footprint on the continent, joining its regional sister chapters in Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—and this effort is in no small part due to the visionary leadership of AWEP 2011 alumna Zohra Baraka. 

As an award-winning entrepreneur and CEO of home decor company Mohazo that has successfully secured deals with large clients in the U.S., including Walmart, Marshalls, Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. We know that Ms. Baraka will lead AWEP Kenya to be well positioned to create opportunities and build better business environments for Kenyan women entrepreneurs. 

Already, AWEP Kenya has developed enhanced partnerships with Intel and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and soon will be organizing mentoring opportunities, networking forums, and business and skills development workshops.  And the chapter’s partnership with the Ministry of Trade’s AGOA Unit, will continue to ensure that Kenya helps women leverage the benefits of trading under AGOA.

AWEP Kenya is also unique in that it will be the vehicle for engaging other Kenyan women alumni from U.S. Government exchange programs, who have expressed a strong interest in greater engagement with the Embassy after they return from their visits to the United States.

The United States Government could not be happier to call ourselves partners with the Kenyan women of AWEP and we appreciate your time and dedication to building a chapter.  Congratulations on your journey to establish an AWEP chapter and we celebrate with you today as you launch!  Thank you.

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