U.S. Embassy Luanda partnered with the Kianda Hub for the six-month Empowerment, Leadership, & Access or ELA Program. The program focused on young female entrepreneurs to provide them with the digital and financial tools needed for resilience and profitability during the challenges of the small business environment in Angola during the COVID-19 pandemic. 20 microbusiness owners were selected for an intensive training program to develop and grow their businesses while also building a community of support through mentorship and a book club. This program falls within the scope of the U.S. Embassy’s activities aimed at promoting entrepreneurship as a tool for socio-economic and human capital development, inclusion of marginalised groups, as well as to expand trade relations between the people of the United States and Angola.
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Tulinabo S. Mushingi at the ELA Program Closing Ceremony as prepared.
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the U.S. Embassy for the first of many occasions, as we start winning the battle against the pandemic and adjust to our new normal.
I am delighted for today’s occasion– the graduation ceremony for the ELA Program, a program for inclusion of female microentrepreneurs striving for empowerment, leadership and access. What a great way to celebrate the end of Women’s History Month, by showcasing all that we have to gain when we promote inclusive economic development.
I just arrived in Angola a little under a month ago, and I am still learning about Angolans. But one characteristic I have noticed already is the positive outlook, the willingness to promote solutions that brings results for Angola. The U.S. is a committed partner seeking to build the relationship between our two countries through reliable partnerships. And at the center of that, are our people. By developing our youth and sharing knowledge and best practices, we are able to go farther together.
The U.S. Embassy has long supported initiatives to promote Angolan entrepreneurs; from entrepreneurship summits in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, to startup competitions like “Who Wants to be an Entrepreneur” we have supported Angolans who seek to create their own opportunities not only for themselves but for others. Through our work with stakeholders in the Angolan entrepreneurship ecosystem, we learned that a specific population was not reached through bootcamps and competitions; young women. The ELA Program is our latest initiative where the format of a book club meets practical training, to provide young female entrepreneurs with the tools necessary for sustainable business growth and a supportive network.
The three books referred to throughout the program were meant to underscore the skills you learned and enhanced. From Rachel Hollis’ encouragement to debunk personal excuses in “Girl, Stop Apologizing” to the practical tips offered by Melinda Emerson in “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months”, I hope you continue to find inspirational gems.
ELA graduates, you are already sheroes in your communities and role models for those watching you in your personal journeys. The Vice President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris is doing the same as the first woman to hold this position. I echo her reminder to everyone here today, “You never have to ask anyone permission to lead. When you want to lead, you lead.” You may be the first to do what you are doing, the first in your family, the first amongst your friends, maybe the first in your community but make sure you are not the last! Please continue to apply and practice the lessons learned through your experience in the ELA program and most importantly, share them with someone else!
To those who supported these young women through this program in a variety of ways, thank you! In order to achieve a fair society, everyone has to be involved and on the same page on the values of diversity and inclusion. Men and women, government, civil society and business are all important partners and stakeholders in creating the changes needed to ensure that women and other marginalized groups are included in the opportunities we seek to create and the growth we strive to achieve.
A special thank you to Kianda Hub, for taking on the challenge of conducting this program. I am very happy to see alumni of Embassy programs taking the lead on the issues that make a difference in their community. I commend your team for your commitment to improving Angola’s future.
Congratulations to the first ELA cohort on completing the program and all who made it a life changing experience!