Dear Friends,
On the 1st of February, millions of people around the world who share an Asian heritage, including me, celebrated the Lunar New Year. This celebration ushered in the Year of the Tiger, symbolizing bravery, strength, and exorcising evil. When I reflected on these symbols, my thoughts immediately went to our AWEC Fellows.
Brave enough to launch a business? Check. 
Strength to maintain that business throughout a pandemic? Check, check.
Exorcising evil may sound extreme, but when you consider the insecurities that women entrepreneurs must banish in order to have the confidence to thrive as business owners, it’s not that wild of an exaggeration.
In this month’s newsletter, we’re also celebrating “The Year of You,” in which we’re encouraging all women to let their voices be heard. Read on for tips from several experts on how to be more visible online.
We’re also spotlighting a longtime mentor, Kudzayi Nheweyembwa, general manager of a Hilton property in Zambia, who shares two questions that he asks all his mentees.
I’ll leave you with this final thought: At the end of January, AWEC received more than 3,500 applications for our next cohort. This unprecedented volume - a 34 percent increase over last year - demonstrates the acute need for capacity building programs like ours.
My teammates and I are humbled by the number of women entrepreneurs seeking to advance their knowledge and businesses by becoming part of AWEC. We’re also honored that so many partners and alumnae helped us to raise awareness of this opportunity. Watch this space for more news as we prepare to admit the newest members of our next cohort.

Stay well and healthy,

Karen Sippel
Co-Founder and Managing Director
AWEC Mentor Spotlight: Kudzayi Nheweyembwa - 
Supporting Women Entrepreneurs on Their Journey to Success
Kudzayi Nheweyembwa, General Manager, Hilton Garden Inn in Zambia, described his unexpected journey as an AWEC mentor for three years.
Dear Businesswoman, Your Work Will Not Sell Itself! You’ve Got To Do It
When female entrepreneurs don’t promote their businesses, their work often silently goes unnoticed which can lead to fewer opportunities for professional partnerships and investor backing. Read on for advice on how to make a strong first impression.
Spotlight Corner: To Grow Your Business, Grow Your Mindset
When you have a hard nut to crack, give it to a woman! This statement echoes the sentiments shared by AWEC Alumna, Ebun Feludu in a fascinating interview in Guardian Nigeria. ​​Ebun is the brain behind JAM The Coconut Food Company, a family legacy business that produces food and beauty products from coconuts.
She is passionate about developing the coconut value chain and the women who form the backbone of this industry.

When asked what advice she’d give to women looking to innovate for success, she shared some great gems in the article. 

First, get training; there is a lot of information online. Second, understand the value chain and decide where you want to play. Finally, get your distribution right and ensure your branding stands out.
AWEC brings together groups of experts to support the African Business Woman on their journey.

If you have a business-related question that you wish you had help with, our generous network of experts are at hand to help you.

Speaking of business growth, here is a great question for our Business Fix column from Uzoamaka Igweike based in Nigeria and in Food Processing.
“May I ask if there is some defined methodology for Disruptive Thinking? Is there some way that one who is not naturally creative can learn to come up with disruptive ideas?”
Speed of learning is the new unfair advantage. 

Challenge your value proposition. Remember that the goal of any business is to create value for customers!

Examine an area where nothing has changed in a long time, an area where profit is average but underperforming expectations, or a category where growth is slow. Ask yourself, “How can we disrupt the competitive landscape by delivering an unexpected solution?” 
  • Example: When Ghana Airways decommissioned their DC-10 plane, La Tante Restaurant opened to serve customers near the Accra airport. 

Create a disruptive hypothesis, or an intentionally unreasonably statement that encourages you to think in a different way. Consider this a provocation to imagine and ask, “What if?” 
  • Example: Little Miss Matched asked why socks needed to be sold in matching pairs and started selling fun children socks in sets of three.  

Improve your value proposition: What can you invert? What can you deny? What can you scale? 
  • Example: El Bulli reimagined the dining experience to include 30+ courses and only accepted reservations for a few months out of the year.

For a chance to be featured in next month’s newsletter, click here to share your challenge with us.

“My job revolves 100% around leadership; and this is a great podcast that helps me unpack, learn and make better leadership decisions as they pertain to all areas of business that I am responsible for, be they strategic, motivational, commercial or financial acumen. I’d recommend this podcast to any woman entrepreneur because as a founder, they’ve got to learn more about how to lead themselves and lead others.”
Kudzayi Nheweyembwa, General Manager, Hilton Garden Inn, Lusaka, Zambia
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