Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce, traveled to Accra, Ghana from June 24 – 26, 2019.
During her visit, she met with Government of Ghana officials, private sector representatives, local entrepreneurs, alumni from U.S. exchange programs, and university administrators to promote the United States of America’s’ cultural and educational diplomacy efforts and highlight support for entrepreneurship in Ghana.
Assistant Secretary Royce met with the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Prof Kwesi Yankah on Monday, June 24, to reaffirm the U.S. government’s goal to facilitate partnerships among American and Ghanaian universities, as well as to expand academic opportunities for Ghanaian youth to study in the United States.
The Assistant Secretary also met with heads of public and private universities and administrators, and private sector representatives to deepen educational linkages between the United States and Ghana to further strengthen women’s economic empowerment.
On Tuesday, June 25, Assistant Secretary Royce formally launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program, a new initiative supporting women entrepreneurs around the world. AWE will provide online education resources, foster networks that support access to mentorships, and connect women through existing exchange programs.
The inaugural cohort will feature women in 26 countries, including 10 in Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. AWE is a part of the U.S. Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, a whole-of-government effort to advance global women’s economic empowerment established in February 2019.
Following the launch of AWE, the Assistant Secretary visited an African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)-supported and woman-owned organic foods company, Kroms, and met with the Founder and CEO Georgina Coomson.
Launched by the U.S. Department of State in July 2010, AWEP assists women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa who are transforming their societies through economic development and social advocacy in their communities.
Assistant Secretary Royce delivered a keynote address to 40 exchange program alumni from 14 African countries at an Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar on women’s entrepreneurship on Wednesday, June 26. Under the theme “Strengthening Business and Trade for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa,” participant-led sessions addressed topics such as mentoring, access to capital, business expansion best practices, and overcoming barriers to women in business.
U.S. Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan said: “We are honored that Assistant Secretary Royce met with many Ghanaian women entrepreneurs, and that Ghana was chosen as the country from which to launch the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program. The Assistant Secretary’s visit underscores the United States of America’s key priority to promote entrepreneurship, private sector growth, and economic development here in Ghana as around the world.”
Marie Royce was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate and sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs on March 30, 2018. In this capacity, she oversees a wide range of programs to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives through educational, professional, cultural, and sports exchanges that promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other nations. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) programs create networks and partnerships to advance U.S. foreign policy goals and address the world’s greatest challenges and opportunities.
Ms. Royce, a former business woman and professor, was previously the CEO and Principal of Marie Royce LLC, in California before joining the State Department. She has over 30 years of experience in the private sector with Fortune 500 companies and as a small business owner, creating and launching start-ups and new initiatives and serving as a key business liaison to 80 countries. She held senior management positions at Marriott International, Alcatel-Lucent, Proctor & Gamble, among others.
As a former educator and full-time university professor at California State Polytechnic University, Ms. Royce led an international grant program between universities. She has served on 20 non-profit boards, and as a private sector appointee on the Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP) at the State Department, in addition to serving on two U.S. Cultural Exchange Boards. She participated as an American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) delegate to Hungary and Poland and was recognized with the “2018 ACPYL Honors Award.” The American Women also recognized her for International Understanding (AWIU) with its distinguished “Internationalism Award.”
Ms. Royce earned a BS/BA (double major) at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and an MBA at Georgetown University in International Business with honors, Beta Gamma Sigma. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.