14ymedio, Havana, 11 March 2023 — On Thursday, the US State Department launched the call for a free online entrepreneurship course promoted by the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). It is the second time that this program has been launched in Cuba, with the support of the US Embassy in Havana, and its objective is to advise on “the development of business projects that are led by women.”
Twenty women from all over the Island, chosen by the Heroikka Association — a Spanish company dedicated to women’s “empowerment” — will enjoy the educational resources offered by AWE, the advice of mentors and communication with other women entrepreneurs through the “existing exchange programs.”
According to the call, AWE is part of the Initiative for Women’s Development and Global Prosperity, conceived by Washington so that 50 million women “around the world by 2025” can reach their “economic potential,” “stability, security and prosperity.” The application forms are open from March 7 to 28.
One of the beneficiaries of the first launch of the program, the entrepreneur and journalist from Villa Clara, Yinet Jiménez, posted a video at the end of 2022 about the characteristics of the AWE course and pointed out that the program would be carried out by the Thunderbird Business School in the United States, under a program called DreamBuilder.
Among the participants in the first course of AWE are project managers such as Humidores Duyos, which offers boxes for storing tobacco to embassies and companies, the El Bazar de Tito store, La Casa del Jabón, the Casa Dagda hostel, the Decoluz handmade lamp store and the audiovisual company Wajiros Films.
According to Jiménez, the launch of the first AWE course on the Island caused a controversy, since several independent media accused the participants in the first program of looking for ways to leave the country through the resources of the State Department, when the call specified that it was an online course.
In addition, AWE’s support was looked at with suspicion by the Cuban Government, which has limited the options of the private sector and closed numerous initiatives. Jiménez herself, who runs a YouTube channel and had a small advertising advisory agency, ended up going into exile in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the end of 2022.
Other U.S.-based institutions have offered opportunities to both Cubans living on the Island and exiles. This is the case of the Cuban American Alliance for Leadership and Education scholarship, also called Pinos Nuevos, which offers $10,000 to students born on the Island or descendants of Cubans for university studies.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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