Mary Olushoga is the founder of the African Women Power (AWP) Network, an enterprise recently given distinction at the World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) 2012. Through AWP, Mary supports and consults young Africans interested in starting a business. We met her at the WSYA ceremony in Canada and asked her about her passion to support African women entrepreneurs.

What is the AWP Network and how did you come to start it?
The African Women Power (AWP) network is a credible platform that showcases the business challenges and success stories of African women and youth entrepreneurs. The big picture goal is to promote a positive image of Africa. The AWP network began with a tweet in 2011. I started simply by tweeting out business related information like sources of funding. To date, I have over 500 followers. It began with the idea to provide business related content to African entrepreneurs anywhere in the world, with a particular focus on women and youths. Not long after I started, I was invited to speak on BBC about the fuel subsidy strike in Nigeria and since then, things have really taken off – in a good way.

With the exposure, I felt something was right. I began to think about how to expand beyond twitter, so I started a wordpress blog (awpnetwork.com) that would feature and profile African women and youth entrepreneurs both in the U.S. and throughout the continent. It has been a very exciting year.

The whole idea of AWP began after working in the small business industry for a number of years. I saw how business support services could really help entrepreneurs grow and expand. I know that Africa has a different set of challenges than the U.S., but I think that free and available business support services would immensely help the small business industry. African women have always been entrepreneurial, so I am not promoting anything new – I think that supporting them can help some to grow and expand quickly, which in turn, will enable them to hire and create jobs for the unemployed.

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