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U.S. Consulate in collaboration with Ascend Studios Foundation Announces Application for 2022 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

Lagos – For the fourth year of AWE, the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos in partnership with Ascend Studios Foundation and Venture Garden Foundation has officially opened the 2022 application for the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) – a U.S. Government initiative set up to empower female entrepreneurs all over the world. participants will be selected from the 17 states of southern Nigeria for the 2022 cohort. To support the comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration of returned migrants, 50 female returnees will also take part in the program. 

200 participants will be selected from the 17 states of southern Nigeria for the 2022 cohort. To support the comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration of returned migrants, 50 female returnees will also take part in the program. 

Accompanying this highly competitive program is the opportunity for the graduates of AWE to become automatic members of the U.S. government exchange alumni community, conferment that grants them access to an extensive network of top and similar business-minded professionals all over the country.

Statistics have shown that women’s participation in the economy drives better global businesses, resilient values, economic growth, and sustainable development. The AWE initiative is an enormous platform for female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to access classroom-like theoretical and practical insights, expand their networks, and build sustainable businesses.

The program offers complete business training through intensive and well-curated sessions facilitated by seasoned industry experts and business leaders on one part and access to the DreamBuilder platform – a blended business training course developed for women through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan, on the other.

In giving her thoughts on this year’s partnership and program, Ascend Studios Foundation’s CEO, Dr. Inya Lawal appreciated the U.S. Consulate in Nigeria for the initiative. In her words “this is another great opportunity for women to participate in the economic and leadership space and we encourage many female entrepreneurs to apply for the program. This program is a game-changer for business owners. We have seen exponential growth in the businesses of our alumnae, and we look forward to welcoming successful applicants this year”.

The application link for interested female entrepreneurs to apply is now open and it is free.

The deadline for applications is 7th April 2022.

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Mastercard Foundation and My World of Bags’ Kafawa Training Program graduates its first cohort of young talent

Ibadan, March 2022 – Following its launch in October 2021, the Kafawa Training Program, a partnership between My World of Bags and the Mastercard Foundation, has formally graduated its first set of fully-trained leather industry artisans, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, and women. The program’s focus is to train young Nigerian women and men in leather and non-leather manufacturing work.

The program up-skills young Nigerians in artisanal work and provides them with the tools they need to find work opportunities or to venture into entrepreneurship. To date, the program has enrolled over 400 young women and men through in-person and virtual sessions.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Femi Olayebi, Creative Director, FemiHandbags, explained that through initiatives like this, the company has sought out ways to level the playing field and improve access for Nigerian MSMEs operating in the leather space. The goal, therefore, for Kafawa is to drive the growth of the leather sector and improve youth unemployment rates.

L-R: Jerry Tagang, Director, Directorate of Leather Training and Production Technology, Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST); Sefiyat Ismaila, Kafawa Handbags Manufacturing Trainee; Ridwan Ige, Kafawa Footwear Construction Trainee; Femi Olayebi, Program Director, Kafawa and CEO, My World of Bags/FemiHandbags.

“We are encouraged by the enormous potential that exists across Nigeria’s youth group and we are excited to be creating channels that will tap into that potential. ThroughKafawa, hundreds of young dreamers have started defining their goals and taking control of their futures, and we are immensely proud of their progress and achievements. We are honored to be driving such change, and we look forward to deepening this impact in the coming years”, said Olayebi.

Commenting on the program, the MSME Finance Lead for Mastercard Foundation, Chioma Nwagboso, revealed that one key area of the Foundation’s charitable objective is access to learning, of which the Kafawa Training Program is ideally aligned to this purpose. “We are grateful to our partner, My World of Bags, for creating opportunities for young people in Nigeria to thrive and succeed. We are confident that the Kafawagraduates will use their newly-acquired technical and soft skills to reach their full potential”, she said.

In Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy seeks to enable access to dignified work for 10 million youth by 2030 – with a 70% focus on women -across the agricultural and adjacent sector, the creative industry, and through digital interventions.

Beyond access and empowerment, Kafawa’s vision is to change the narrative around production, tailoring, and manufacturing jobs, with most of the program’s recent graduates starting their own businesses or joining the workforce.

“When I see my work and I’m able to do things that I thought were impossible, it gives me inspiration that I can do more. Kafawa has given me so much hope for a future, so much hope as a shoemaker”, said a recent graduate, Opeyemi Okanlawon.

The graduating cohort received completion certificates, and in some cases, certificates of achievement for outstanding performance. In addition, following a trade test (held earlier) administered by the Nigerian Ministry of Labour, Productivity, and Employment, candidates received national certification, which qualifies them to operate as fully-fledged leather artisans. There were also business awards and grants given to the top graduating students, courtesy of the Lagos Leather Fair.

Kafawa is set to roll out the next set of training sessions in late 2022.

Media Enquiries

My World of Bags Ltd

Oluyemi Olukanni

Communications Lead, My World of Bags/FemiHandbags

Mastercard Foundation

Nonye Mpho Omotola

Country Lead, Program Communications, Nigeria

About My World of Bags

My World of Bags (MWOB) is a bag design and corporate accessories manufacturing company, and the parent company of Femi Handbags — a bespoke line of leather handbags and accessories. Founded in 1992 by Femi Olayebi, the company designs and produces a dynamic array of products for businesses and individuals alike.

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Here’s something hooge for you!

In preparation for a more result-driven 2022, Borderless Trade Network surveyed her members to better serve them. 

Guess what they found?  FUNDING!

Yes, they found out that at the core of the needs of entrepreneurs is funding.

Certainly, you can resonate with this need, right? 

In line with meeting this important need, Borderless Trade Network will, on the 2nd of March, host women in business and in transition to a great time of learning how best they can multiply their business income at the International Women’s Day Conference themed “Break The Marketplace Bias–10x your income”.

What if the BTN crew told you that you’d get a chance to ask these speakers anything you need to know about money?

It’s time to build that business empire . . . We’re done with the small stuff.


All the best, 

From The BTN HQ

*Sponsored content

Connect with BTN

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CEO, Rehoboth Property International (RPI), Sanmi Adegoke has become the first black recipient of the Property Awards Entrepreneur of the Year award which he received at this year’s ceremony held at the Intercontinental at the O2, London.

Property Week is one of the biggest property publications in the UK and this award category is the highest in the property industry. Celebrating 25 years of the ceremony & Sanmi being one of the first black recipients of this award, speaks volumes of the milestones he has achieved over the years.

Over the years, Sanmi has demonstrated to the business & property world his unique entrepreneurial flair, vision, and innovation within the UK commercial property scene. Legacy is at the core of Sanmi’s ethos & he strongly believes in creating an ecosystem for black businesses. Speaking on his thoughts on receiving the award, he expressed, “As a business, we are familiar with the barriers minority ethnic groups face and the importance of representation, therefore this is something we advocate for in our dealings to ensure there’s a level playing field for everyone. If I can, you can. As a man thinketh in his heart so he, therefore, if you can think it, you can certainly be it”.

Developments like The Hill Hub serve as a place for entrepreneurs and creatives to thrive, collaborate & ultimately be successful.

The Hill Hub is an award-winning private office and co-working space that was converted from an old police station in Dartford. Completed during the pandemic and despite a number of barriers throughout this process, Sanmi & the RPI team persisted by getting planning permission and also completing it. The Hill Hub is the fruition of the hard work, labour, and tenacity seen throughout Sanmi and the RPI team.

2020/2021 has been an incredible yet unprecedented year for Sanmi and the team at Rehoboth Property International (RPI). During the peak of the pandemic, they managed to complete an astounding development, secure deals all around the UK, and contribute towards the narrative of black ownership.

Featured on the likes of BBC, Property Week, The Times & The Voice magazine; also participating in various panels at this years’ UK Black Business Show and partnering with top global investors from the diaspora, the only way is up for Sanmi and RPI’s countless works in the industry.

He is keen on showcasing his love for the rich culture of Africa and demonstrating this through his actions.

For more information or inquiries, please visit and follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

For references, please contact:

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U.S. Consulate Announces Application for 2021 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

Lagos — The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos and Ascend Studios Foundation have partnered to implement the 2021 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a U.S. Government initiative that supports women entrepreneurs around the world, now in its third year.

200 participants will be selected from the 17 states of southern Nigeria for the 2021 cohort. To support the comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration of returned migrants, 50 female returnees will also take part in the program. As part of this highly competitive entrepreneurship program, participants who graduate from the AWE gain automatic membership to the U.S. government exchange alumni community, providing access to a vast network of like-minded and highly regarded professionals across the country.

Women’s meaningful economic participation is integral to achieving greater security and stability around the world. The AWE initiative is a great opportunity for Nigerian women entrepreneurs to gain university-level business and management training, strengthen their networks, and grow sustainable businesses.

Women have a key role to play in Nigeria’s future prosperity,” U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli said. “As we have seen time and time again when women do better, countries do better, communities do better, and families do better.”

Leading local business leaders will help facilitate the intensive program scheduled to run from July to September 2021. In addition, participants will receive access to DreamBuilder, a blended business training course developed through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoRan.

Chief Executive Officer of Ascend Studios Foundation, Ms. Inya Lawal, said “We are delighted that the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos has partnered with us to implement this program, the largest yet. AWE is a transformative initiative that is helping women in Nigeria build and sustain their businesses; the opportunities that come from this program are immense.”

Female entrepreneurs interested in participating in the AWE program can apply at no cost by filling out the application form via

The application portal is now open and closes on July 15, 2021.