Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: To launch its Women’s Empowerment Speaker Series, the U.S. Embassy will host Samira Cook-Gaines, a U.S. expert on women’s entrepreneurship, from August 18 to August 24, 2013 in Port Moresby.
Mrs. Cook-Gaines will highlight the importance of women’s entrepreneurship to the economic development and growth of a country. She will lead motivational and practical workshops on basic business and financial literacy skills to small business female owners and women in the informal sector. Samira’s visit will feature a public engagement with students at Pacific Adventist University where she will encourage students to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. She will give inspirational talks to working women about overcoming challenges in the workplace and to women at Haus Ruth about building their financial confidence.
The United States is fully committed to providing skill-building and professional development opportunities for women in Papua New Guinea. Samira Cook’s visit to Papua New Guinea was sponsored by the American people through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs’ (IIP) Speaker Program. The IIP Speakers Program allows American experts to engage with foreign audiences around the world through lectures, workshops, and seminars on U.S. policies, society, and culture.
Samira serves as the Vice President of Business Development for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) were she provides vision and leadership for four small business development centers: The Washington, DC Women’s Business Center (DC WBC), a Minority Business Center in Washington, DC and Manhattan, New York, and a Small Business Teaming Center. Samira was the Founding Director of the Washington, DC Women’s Business Center which supports women entrepreneurs through training, individual consultation, mentoring, and business growth through government procurement opportunities and exporting. Under Samira’s direction, the DC WBC has assisted over 1000 women in achieving their business goals. In honor of her work with small businesses, Samira was recently selected as a White House Champion for Change in the area of entrepreneurship mentoring.
Throughout her public service career, Samira has worked to enhance community economic development in several states and local governments including New Jersey, St. Louis, and San Francisco. Her interest in community economic development has also taken her to several countries in Europe and Africa to assist in local business development. She has also served the residents of the District of Columbia as a Community Planner where she assisted Business Improvement Districts and Business Associations and as Assistant Director for Training and Education for the Department of Small and Local Business Development. Samira also has her own business, a real estate consulting firm, where she strives to engage residents and local businesses in their changing neighborhoods.
Samira received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and her Master of Public Administration degree from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is an active member of her Fort Lincoln neighborhood and volunteers on the Board of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the Association of Women’s Business Centers, and the Brandywine Street Association. Samira is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.