Nigest Haile



Charlotte, North Carolina


Brenda Harris


Founder and Executive Director, Center for Accelerated Women's Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)

For 23 years, Nigest has been an activist for the promotion of women entrepreneurs, with particular focus on women exporters, working in a range of capacities for the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade. In 2004, she founded CAWEE, a non-profit trade promotion organization, providing capacity building support services targeting women exporters.

Nigest was recognized by the U.S. Department of State for her extraordinary contribution to the development of women-led businesses, and selected by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), Canada, as a TIAW Award Winner in 2012 for her work to economically empower women. She also received a Pan-African Award by UN Women and ILO, in recognition of her support for women’s entrepreneurship development on the African continent. In addition, she was the 2015 award winner of the AWiB (Association of Women in Business) Women of Excellence Award event in Ethiopia.

Nigest is member of the of the Spanish-African Women Network; member of the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa) Business Council; one of the promoters and founders of the first women's bank of Ethiopia named "ENAT Bank," as well as current board member; AWEP (African Women Entrepreneurs Program) Ambassador to Ethiopia, an initiative of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, launched in 2010; Sub-Saharan Africa jury member for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards; advisory board member of the Global Economic Forum for Women in Africa, the 1st Forum starting in 2017 in Morocco; and executive committee member (treasurer) of the African Community of Practice (AfCoP).