On April 10, Ambassador Michael Raynor presided over the official launch of Benin’s African Women Entrepreneurship Program(AWEP) chapter. AWEP was initially created as part of the International Visitor’s Leadership Program in 2010 by then Secretary of State Clinton as part of President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, and it has since flourished to become a powerful network of women entrepreneurs from across the African continent.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Raynor shared the story of one of America’s most famous female entrepreneurs, C.J. Walker , and noted that, “It is my hope that AWEP will serve as a model to help other Beninese businesses and also pave the way for young Beninese girls looking to become successful business women. These are the future AWEP participants. These are the future C.J. Walkers.”
Five AWEP Alumnae will lead Benin’s Chapter: Mrs. Fatuma Gbaouré Sèkossounon, CEO of A’NTEMANA shea butter company; Mrs. Gwladys Tawéma, co-founder of Karethic, a company also specialized in the production of shea butter; Mrs. Gretta Luce, the head of her own fashion company known for using a mix of western and African fabrics and local materials; Mrs. Clemence Gbaguidi, esthetician and owner of Maison Jolyderm, a company that specializes in producing organic cosmetic products from local plants and fruits; and Mrs. Armelle Kouton, owner of Bikara, a company whose biscuits are stocked by many of Benin’s grocery stores.