Ending Insurgency

Empowered Women Friends Rescued Graduate From Academy for Women Entrepreneurs in Zamboanga del Sur

Five women Friends Rescued (FRs) of the Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) graduated from Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in Zamboanga del Sur in a ceremony held at Alindahaw Hotel, Pagadian City on May 12, 2023.

AWE is a program launched by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and SPARK! Philippines to provide entrepreneurial training to women from difficult backgrounds, including survivors of violence, illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and armed conflict, and to promote the economic empowerment of women through education and mentorship.

Dumalinao Mayor Hon. Junaflor Cerilles in her welcome remarks congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to continue pursuing their entrepreneurial endeavors.

SPARK! Philippines Executive Director Maica Teves likewise congratulated the graduates for a job well done, asking them to never give up on their dreams.

53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Terence P Ylanan conveyed his sincerest gratitude to the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, SPARK! Philippines, and to all involved for including the FRs in the said program, saying it will significantly help them in uplifting their lives.

Throughout program, beneficiaries took courses that will equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to establish and expand their own businesses. This includes courses on market research, laws and regulations, business plan creation, cash flow projection, and digital marketing.

Launched by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in 2019, AWE is a hybrid program that combines the use of DreamBuilder—an online business training curriculum developed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management—with in-class mentoring and facilitation.

Globally, the program has trained more than 16,000 women entrepreneurs in nearly 90 countries. In the Philippines, AWE has trained more than 180 women beneficiaries since its launch in October 2020 in partnership with the U.S. Embassy’s American Spaces in Bacolod City, Cebu City, Manila, and Marawi City.

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