On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, Meridian hosted a multi-faceted workshop on social entrepreneurship with the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), in collaboration with the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The AWEP participants visited the U.S. to create networking opportunities with American entrepreneurs and businesspeople to share innovative business strategies and best practices, as well developing social entrepreneurship strategies to address gender barriers in business and society.
With these goals in mind, the Meridian workshop opened with an overview on advocacy by Ms. Maryamu Aminu, Assistant Director for U.S. Government Relations with the ONE Campaign. Following Ms. Aminu’s remarks, Ashoka’s Senior Intrapreneur and Global Media Manager for Framework Change and Global Communications, Ms. Laxmi Parthasarathy, provided a general framework on social entrepreneurship - what it is and why it matters. Four speakers - Ms. Liz Cullen, Director of Women’s Business Development with WEConnect International; Mr. Darius Graham, Founder and Director of DC Social Innovation; Ms. Nicole Morrissey, Business Partnerships Manager with GlobalGiving; and Ms. Rahama Wright, Founder and CEO of Shea Yeleen International - met with small groups of AWEP participants, who were divided by language and sector (agriculture and home décor/handicrafts, fashion/textiles). During timed 15-minute sessions, these speakers sat down with each group to discuss a particular aspect of social entrepreneurship, including advocacy, marketing, getting started and a “practitioner’s perspective.”
For the second half of the afternoon workshop, AWEP participants were introduced to members of the Washington, DC chapter of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) who recently completed a multi-week module on social entrepreneurship. YPFP’s Oz Alturk opened the session with an introduction to “messaging and pitching,” followed by one-on-one sessions on messaging, in order to practice the participants’ business “pitches,” promote their professional objectives and where applicable, incorporate their social entrepreneurship mission.