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Thunderbird School of Global Management, a unit of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise, has been selected by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs to lead educational and recruitment responsibilities for the WEAmericas Accelerator program, a three-year project to provide women entrepreneurs in Central America with business consulting support, mentoring and financial investment opportunities.
The WEAmericas Accelerator Program is part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative, which reduces barriers and increases opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere to start and grow small- and medium-size enterprises by improving access to markets, capital, skills and capacity building, and leadership opportunities.
Thunderbird’s role in activating the accelerator program begins with identifying potential participants from small to medium-sized enterprises in Central America that have growth potential and are at least 51 percent women-owned. Twenty-seven participants will participate in each of three individual cohorts assembled over the next 36 months.
Thunderbird’s team of faculty and mentors will lead participants through workshops and technical training in Central America that share information about creating or refining a business plan, strategic direction, and other business processes. In addition, participants will learn about improving their access to markets, capital, and ultimately growth potential of women-owned businesses in Central America.
In addition, Thunderbird’s responsibilities will include establishing both group and one-on-one mentorships as well as introducing participants to possible investors, financial institutions and private-sector companies.
Thunderbird for Good, a department within the Thunderbird School, will take the lead in administering the Accelerator program and brings more than a decade of experience in delivering this type of training through its Project Artemis, which has a similar mission for women in Afghanistan.
“This is the kind of challenge that Thunderbird embraces and one at which we excel,” said Cindy Yeager, senior director for Latin America of Thunderbird for Good. “Our success is based on the people we bring together – faculty, staff, and our global alumni network – to accomplish the task. We know how to do this work and we have a track record of delivering, so we are very excited to be a part of this program.”
Thunderbird plans to initiate the first cohort in the Accelerator program by spring of 2017. Subsequent cohorts will then overlap, with new cohorts entering their program as their predecessors conclude with their capstone presentations.