Remarks – Official Launch of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Nassau Cohort

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers

Honorable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest, Executive Director of the Small Development Center Davinia Grant, Chair of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation Krystle Rutherford-Ferguson, Director of Special Projects for the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister Ann Higgins, and distinguished participants, welcome and thank you for your participation in the launch of the U.S. Embassy’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, or “AWE.”

AWE is a White House-led initiative aimed at empowering women to meet their full potential for economic participation and thereby increasing prosperity and stability for all societies around the world.  The Bahamas is one of just 26 pilot countries selected to launch this exciting initiative.

The U.S. Embassy, working hand-in-hand with the Bahamian government, prioritizes economic diversification not only to ensure a stable and prosperous Bahamas but also to provide opportunities for people in all corners of Bahamian society.   Harnessing the full participation of women in the Bahamian economy, and particularly women entrepreneurs such as yourselves, is critical to fulfilling this mission.

Knowing that what women entrepreneurs need the most are advocacy, mentoring, and financing, we believe the AWE curriculum will unleash the talent and creativity of women across The Bahamas and enable them to make meaningful impact on Bahamian prosperity.

I would like to thank Ms. Santina McKinney of the Women’s Investment Group, as well as Ms. Anne Marie Bain and Ms. Chanelle Clare of our Embassy, for their assistance in launching this initiative in The Bahamas.  I would also like to express our gratitude to Ms. Grant for the Small Business Development Center’s invaluable support.

The SBDC has been a vital partner of the Embassy in working with the Women’s Investment Group, which was founded through an Embassy initiative, providing them training and assistance in writing business plans that can win financing.

The SBDC is also a cooperative partner on AWE, having provided a matching grant of $10,000 in seed money that AWE participants will compete for to launch or expand their businesses.  Although still a young organization, the SBDC under Ms. Grant’s dynamic leadership will be a key player in improving and diversifying the Bahamian economy for years to come.

Finally, I would like to thank and commend you, the 120 women from New Providence and Grand Bahama, for your participation in the Academy.  Thank you for sharing your business ideas and working with your peers to ensure women entrepreneurs become a driving force in the Bahamian economy.

And now, it is my great honor to present to you Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh.  Assistant Secretary Singh is the first woman appointed to her role, which is charged with advancing prosperity, entrepreneurship, and innovation worldwide.

Having assumed her current position in 2017, she brings to us a wealth of experience in government and business.  It is an honor that she traveled from Washington to join us here today.  Please welcome Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh.