Africa News

AWIEF launches a USAID funded program: Enhanced Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Investment and Export Readiness Through a Digital Platform

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Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) (, in partnership with USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID TradeHub), has launched a new program that will increase the investor, export readiness and competitiveness of 100 SMEs in Southern Africa.

The USAID funded ‘Enhanced Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Investment and Export Readiness Through a Digital Platform’ program is aimed at SMEs in Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia who are either already exporting or interested in exporting products to South Africa and the United States.

The program aims to leverage the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a United States Trade Act that significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries and is valid until 2025 to drive export trade for the SMEs.

The objectives of this new AWIEF program are to:

Increase exports from the Southern African countries to South Africa.

Increase exports from nine targeted Southern African countries to the US, leveraging AGOA.

Support firms seeking specific trade-related technology transfer (e.g. labelling, branding, laboratories).

The comprehensive 8-week program will help strengthen participants’ governance, regulatory compliance, and risk management capabilities and will be implemented as an online training course through the AWIEF digital platform – the AWIEF Community.

AWIEF Founder and CEO Irene Ochem say: “We are very excited to have won this project funding from USAID and to be partnering with USAID TradeHub. SMEs are the power engines of African economies and represent the bulk of all businesses in Africa. This program supports Southern African entrepreneurs to expand their businesses by accessing new markets and trading beyond their borders. It is also important for SMEs to leverage the huge opportunities offered by AGOA to enter into international trade with the US.”

Call for applications

Applications are invited from all SMEs registered in the above-mentioned Southern African countries. Priority industry sectors include Agriculture, Agro-processing, Textiles and Apparel.

To submit your application, please follow this link:

The deadline for submission is Monday, April 11, 2022, at 11:59 pm Central African Time (CAT). Applications will only be accepted through the link above.

Program Timeline

Applications open: Thursday, March 31, 2022.

Applications close Monday, April 11, 2022, at 11:59 pm CAT.

Recruitment: Tuesday, April 12 to Friday, April 22, 2022.

The program starts Tuesday, May 3 2022.


Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF).

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