When I applied for the One-Week Residency Program, I presented an initiative to create a think tank for Afro-Colombian women entrepreneur, but after consultations with faculty and students at Howard University, especially in my many dialogues with Dr. Wheeler, Dr. Jarpa, Ms. Navas, I realized that the framework that Howard University provides me which includes all the resources in faculty, staff, libraries etc. along with Howard University’s oversized African Diasporic footprint broadened the scope and reach of my initial proposal. This led me to amplify my initial plan to the Global Alliance of Afrodescendent and Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs (GAAIWE).
This opportunity has improved my academic and professional condition, it has allowed me to begin to materialize the great dream that many African women in Colombia share since childhood. The most important reason why I decided to leave my town, my country to look for opportunities in the United States, was to help Afro-descendant women in my territory and other parts of the world to fulfill our shared vision.
To start this report, I want to recall that I was admitted to the program, with two main purposes that are recorded below:
- Conduct research visa vis access to Howard University’s Library resources, business school faculty, faculty from Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership, and the Ralph Bunch International Center in pursuit of the development of academy in Colombia about women, gender and race and the creation of Global Alliance of Afrodescendent and Indigenous Women Entrepreneur (GAAIWE), presented before as International Think Thank of African descendent Women Entrepreneurship in Latin America (ITAWE).
- Explore collaboration potential with the Center for Women, Gender, & Global Leadership, before as Women, Gender and Sexualities Collective (WGSC)
The purposes have been fulfilled and have allowed me to advance as I mentioned above, it has also motivated me to carry out a series of activities that have served to start the GAAIWE project.
Among the activities carried out are the following:
- Acceptance of my participation in the One Week Residency Program carried out with the staff and faculty of Howard University as a doctoral fellow by the Universidad Externado de Colombia, where I am a candidate for Doctoral studies in management.
- Better understanding of the dynamics in the businesses of Afrodescendant women Entrepreneurs.
- Recognition in the Universidad Externado de Colombia as a pioneer of GAAIWE, project that integrates the issue of gender, ethnicity, and entrepreneurship. From the academy contributes to the improvement of the quality of life for Afrodescendent women in Colombia.
- Meeting with the Ambassador of Colombia to the United States to request support for the GAAIWE project.
- Meeting in Washington with the Confederation of Pacific Mayors in Colombia, with the Vice President of Costa Rica and with representatives of the Afro Chamber of Commerce to build coalition for the GAAIWE’s Project.
- Build and strengthen relationships with government institutions, educational entities, and women's collective in Colombia based on the vision and mission of GAAIWE.
- Won a prestigious grant of around US$20,000 for research that integrates the issue of gender, ethnicity, and entrepreneurship in the department of Chocó.
- Affiliated more than a thousand Afrodescendent and Indigenous women belonging to women's collectives in Colombia to GAAIWE.
- Shared GAAIWE project with the women’s collectives in Colombia.
- Database of more than 700 surveys of Afro-descendant and Indigenous women entrepreneurs in the Department of Chocó.
- Strengthened GAAIWE’s relationship with the Gender Center of the Technological University of Chocó.
- Visited the Department of Chocó with a teacher from Howard University in 8/2021
- Fellowship in process with the Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership
Projections of GAAIWE:
The information collected from the efforts and investigations that have been carried out, will be used to strengthen the GAAIWE project, as follows:
- Comply with GAAIWE's strengthening strategies (generating research, strengthening Afro-descendant and Indigenous women's collectives, and strengthening women's business initiatives).
- Hold an international business expo for and by women and young people of African descent and Indigenous.
- Participation of Afrodescendent and Indigenous women in events held by Howard University.
- Creation of an incubator for Afro-descendant and Indigenous women in Chocó.
- Conduct academic exchanges with Howard University and other organizations in the United States for the strengthening of women's entrepreneurship and leadership through knowledge transfer.
- Collect resources both in moneys and in kind to strengthen women entrepreneurs in Chocó and other regions.
Report by Yirlehan Amud Ramirez