Spending time in El Salvador as a Bpeace Traveling Mentor, I had the opportunity to work with six such sustainable businesses and their hard-working leaders. My role was to help them understand how to develop programs, practices and work environments that create engaged employees and, in turn, engaged teams. As is often the case, the student teaches the teacher instead of the other way around, and I came away with 10 inspiring lessons and reminders.
Posted on 16. Mar, 2015 by Carla Bachechi.
Bpeace Fast Runner Zarghuna lives in Mazar City, Afghanistan. She is married and has four children. When Zarghuna first joined Bpeace in 2011, she owned and operated one beauty salon with nine employees. Today she operates four salons and two fitness studios, employs 60 Afghan women and enriches the lives of hundreds more.
Posted on 01. Dec, 2014 by Toni Maloney.
“Entrepreneurship Lessons for Peace and Profit” headlines the The Associated Press story that broke November 19, 2014 covering four of our Fast Runners and three of our Host Companies.
Posted on 28. Nov, 2014 by Toni Maloney.
At the November 2014 Bpeace annual meeting in New York City, we were pleased to announce that 49 Bpeacers across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. earned VERAs (Volunteer Excellence Recognition Awards).
Posted on 27. Oct, 2014 by David Montieth.
I couldn’t help but grab my camera when my plane began flying over the lush, green countryside of El Salvador. My last visit was during the dry season and while it was still very beautiful it was now so much greener than before. I was happy to be returning, especially since the two Fast Runners I would be visiting had requested help in Human Resources. Having retired three years ago after a 40 year career in HR, I looked forward to sharing my experience with these younger, high potential entrepreneurs. The jobs they create will help bring peace to gang-torn El Salvador.
The 5th Annual Pedal for Peace was held on Saturday, September 27th, 2014 and was a huge success. Thank you to the 50 riders, 20 volunteers and five sponsors who made this beautiful day in the Berkshires possible. The team rode a collective 1,660 miles. As of September 30th, they have raised $33,000 and still hope to reach $40,000 before their fundraising is through.
Posted on 03. Sep, 2014 by Carla Bachechi.
The statistics on women and girls in Afghanistan are appalling. Only 21% of girls complete primary education, less than 13% are literate and the country’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. Despite a new constitution, adopted in 2004, which recognizes women as equal citizens under the law, for most women in Afghanistan, little has changed since the days of the Taliban. In many parts of the country, women and girls are too often victims of violence, with few prospects for a brighter future. Yet, in between all the dark statistics there is humanity and there are exceptions. Talking with Alka Sadat, I found both. Here is her story.
Posted on 06. Aug, 2014 by Fernando Lopez.
When I got there on the first day of the workshop I started my introduction by saying “let me tell you why I chose to spend my vacation with you…” I made this trip because I saw this project as completely connected to my personal mission: finding often-surprising solutions to leadership and relationship challenges. I was doing it simply for the joy of doing something I love. It had nothing to do with keeping up reputations, expanding business, or even getting paid for anything. I didn’t put myself under any pressure for the project to go a particular way, I simply wanted to be of service in the way I know how.
Posted on 05. Aug, 2014 by Aja Somal.
GLG, the world’s largest membership for professional learning and expertise, asked me to be a Traveling Mentor for Bpeace, spending a week in El Salvador working with the owners of Los Trillizos bakery; a struggling, but fast-growing start-up. Bpeace’s mission is to help entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries expand their businesses and create employment. They, and now I too, believe: More jobs mean less violence.
Posted on 15. Jun, 2014 by Kathryn Lerner.
The 13 Central American business owners (nine Salvadorans and four Guatemalans) had no idea just how favorably the next month would impact their businesses, when they landed in New York at midnight on May 9, 2014. These business owners or Fast Runners, as Bpeace calls them, were eager to begin their Bpeace Executive Business Exchange; a U.S. State Department sponsored corporate entrepreneurship exchange program designed to promote innovation, leadership, diversity and global awareness. A month long whirlwind of learning, traveling and growing, the Fast Runners visited nearly 40 U.S. Host Companies in over 20 cities.
Posted on 04. Jun, 2014 by Kathryn Lerner.
Oh, what a night! From the regal ambiance of the historic Capitale, venue for this year’s annual Bpeace Gala, to the post-dinner “Happy” flashmob, full of Bpeacers showing off their best dance moves, the 2014 Gala was truly a night to remember.
Skiing in Afghanistan — who would have imagined? At least that is what I thought when I first learned about the Afghan Ski Challenge.
Posted on 10. Apr, 2014 by Toni Maloney.
Bpeace has worked with many Host Companies over the years including PwC, NBC Universal, Etsy, Bumble & bumble, Ritz-Carlton Hotels and 100 more. Here are their tips on how to create a satisfying experience for their staff and for the visiting entrepreneur and business owner.
Posted on 09. Apr, 2014 by Toni Maloney.
Of the four countries we work in today, Rwanda has the smallest Bpeace presence. But that wasn’t always the case. In our early years, Rwanda was Bpeace’s obsession, and over the past 12 years we have delivered some innovative services to female business owners in Kigali and Butare.
More than a merit badge, yet not as grand as a Nobel Peace Prize, Bpeace’s Volunteer Excellence Recognition Awards (VERAs) are our tribute to volunteers who significantly accelerated the growth of our Fast Runners or helped strengthen Bpeace.
Posted on 26. Nov, 2013 by Ashley Harden.
Not many people would cycle 50 miles in an unfamiliar town peppered with steep hills, especially if they hadn’t been on a bike in years. But when you are inspired and committed like Justin Kitchens, those are minor obstacles.
Posted on 30. Sep, 2013 by Kimberly Smithson-Abel and Shankar Lakhavani.
Two Bpeace volunteers, Kimberly Smithson-Abel, a business development and HR specialist from Texas, and Shankar Lakhavani, a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and manufacturing specialist from Pennsylvania, spent a week in El Salvador advising Sevialca, a growing road maintenance and signage firm.
Posted on 30. Sep, 2013 by Toni Maloney.
In September 2013, Bpeace “graduated” five Afghan Fast Runners from Mazar-i-Sharif (we also work with Fast Runners in Kabul and Herat). Over three years, some Mazar Fast Runners have prospered and grown employment, others shifted career paths, all dealt with serious family and business issues and stayed engaged with Bpeace.
Cycling means something different for everyone. For me, pedaling on my bike means freedom. As soon as I mount my bike, clip my shoes into my pedals and start moving, I am free and alive. I bike across the land to wherever my bike will lead me. I am free to travel to wherever my [...]
Posted on 12. Aug, 2013 by Donna Fleetwood and Paula Wilbert.
This is the story of how one woman’s vision became reality. The non-profit business volunteer network Bpeace connected us to Latifa as mentors, business advocates and pro bono consultants. Since 2009, we have been eyewitnesses to her passion to build her business.
Celebrities, live musical performances and friends of Bpeace celebrated our10th Anniversary at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park on April 11th, 2013.
Posted on 23. Apr, 2013 by Kate Buggeln.
Roslyn Jaffe wanted to change the way women shopped. In an effort to make fashion affordable, she opened the first dressbarn store in Stamford, Connecticut. Bpeace honors dressbarn founder Roslyn Jaffe with the Bpeace Pioneer Gamechanger Award. dressbarn was Bpeace’s first Host Company.
Posted on 23. Apr, 2013 by Marla Gitterman.
When Bpeace was ready to enter Afghanistan in 2004, we needed money. Our friends and partners at that time – Women for Afghan Women – pointed us to a grant opportunity at the U.S. State Department.
We needed more than a map to find Rwanda and Afghanistan in our early days. UN Women was Bpeace’s Lewis & Clark and Christopher Columbus. We are proud to present UN Women with the Bpeace Pioneer Gamechanger Award.
We wanted something very special to present to our Bpeace Pioneer Gamechangers at our Gala celebrating Bpeace’s 10th Anniversary. Sculptor Anne Kellett rose to the challenge.
Posted on 07. Mar, 2013 by Ashley Harden.
Afghanistan is everywhere you look – and not in the way you would expect. From Carnegie Hall and The Daily Show to the Oscars and the Grammy’s, Afghan artists and opinion-leaders are suddenly high profile. The Afghans and Afghan Americans amongst the Bpeace membership offer their insights on why they believe their country is on a roll.
Posted on 26. Feb, 2013 by Ashley Harden.
“Salvadorans need permanent jobs and I want to create them,” said business owner Claudia Barriere to Bpeace Young Professionals at an event at Sutherland law firm in New York City. Claudia believes with secure employment people can begin to develop their lives and reduce gang violence in El Salvador.
Posted on 12. Feb, 2013 by Rena Fried.
“I have been successful through continuing to improve my own knowledge and my team’s managerial capacity,” said Bpeace Fast Runner Reshad
In 2012, Bpeace expanded its Fast Runner program into Bamiyan. Separately, Bpeace member Eileen Guo was in Bamiyan to scout start-ups for her own film project. What she found was beauty and established businesses we had just accepted into Bpaece.
In December 2012, Bpeace volunteer Donna Fleetwood traveled to El Salvador with CEO Toni Maloney.
Posted on 15. Nov, 2012 by Mary Stycos.
Salvadorians are the nicest people: I was convinced of it after spending a week with the Carymar family in El Salvador as a Bpeace Traveling Mentor. Visiting in person allowed me to identify three areas for Carymar to focus on to increase their sales.
Posted on 08. Oct, 2012 by Russell Morley.
Alcides and his family warmly welcomed me to El Salvador and into their business–Helados Cremosa, an ice cream and popsicle manufacturing company.
Posted on 14. Sep, 2012 by Ashley Harden and Ann-Elise Francis.
We took time off this past August from our jobs at the Council on Foreign Relations to embark on an exploratory research project for Bpeace to investigate the budding film industry in Rwanda.
Posted on 14. Aug, 2012 by Toni Maloney.
Ashley Harden and Ann-Elise Francis are interviewing Rwanda filmmakers to determine whether Bpeace’s brand of business skills coaching can help accelerate the growth of the industry.
Bpeace Advocates are a rare breed. Part skill-based volunteer and part business coach, they offer specific and often technical advisory remotely through email and Skype. Advocates bring knowledge and generosity to help a Bpeace Afghan Fast Runner grow a business in a very difficult environment.
Posted on 15. Jun, 2012 by Rena Fried.
More than 100 Bpeace Young Professionals and a few over-40 rock stars convened to celebrate the partnership of Bpeace, Blue Marble and the forthcoming documentary, Sweet Dreams
Posted on 12. Jun, 2012 by Rena Fried.
In April 2012, 11 Bpeace Afghan Fast Runners apprenticed on the job at 33 Host Companies in 12 states for the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip (BART).
Since 2004, Bpeacers have logged 1.8 million miles traveling to Afghanistan, Rwanda and El Salvador and have spent 1,321 days in the field on Bpeace expeditions! In the first half of 2012, already 5 Traveling Mentors have flown 25,000 miles to El Salvador.
The Bpeace Board of Directors elected Kate Buggeln as the new Chairperson of the nine-member Board. Kate succeeds Laurie Chock, who continues as a long-time Board member.
Posted on 01. Apr, 2012 by Bpeace.
Tim Worthington, plastics manufacturing and engineering specialist, has set foot in over 1,000 mold shops throughout his career but described his experience with Salvadoran plastic mold company Acoopimold as “unique and unparalleled.”
In 2004, Paula Lerner traveled on Bpeace’s second expedition to Afghanistan. From that trip forward her career course was forever altered and Bpeace grew up fast thanks to her lens.
I met Paula Lerner during a Bpeace expedition to Kabul in 2007 where we just simply “clicked” the minute we met. Her genuine interest in the work and lives of Afghan women was immediately visible with her beautiful photographs.
As Bpeace enters our 10th year in 2012, we are striving for “more, more, more.” Here is our game plan.
Once a year, Bpeace hosts a reunion for all of the past and present Fast Runners in Kabul. Country Director, Soraya Omar, held the annual gathering for 21 business owners from the class of 2004, 2007, and the most recent class that started in 2010. For the first time there were two male Fast Runners among them.
Posted on 04. Dec, 2011 by Rena Fried.
Thirty-seven Host Companies opened their doors to 9 Afghan Bpeace Fast Runners for the 2011 Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip (BART), sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of State.
At the Annual Bpeace VERAs (Volunteer Excellence Recognition Awards) we recognize our most exceptional members.
Jerrie describes Inzozi Nziza Ice Cream as an oasis in Butare. “Both the staff and the store’s appearance are welcoming and it is clear that they have worked hard on customer service. It is simply an inviting place to walk into; there is no other place with the same atmosphere in Butare and it is a very positive change.”
What an incredible night! Bpeace took over the Samsung Experience for an evening of dancing, drinking, munching, and schmoozing all in the name of creating One Million Jobs.
Posted on 03. Jun, 2011 by Rena Fried.
A meeting of the minds at Dubai Women’s College with Bpeace members from the U.S. spending the week with 16 Afghan Fast Runners.
The desire for marketing skills is truly tangible among Bpeace’s Afghan Fast Runner entrepreneurs and I was excited to fulfill that need in early May 2011.
The Bpeace Dubai Summit was a whirlwind trip that gave me the opportunity to teach HR management skills to 16 of Bpeace’s Afghan Fast Runners.
After an engaging week in Pennsylvania, four Bpeace Rwandan Fast Runner entrepreneurs traveled to New York City to apprentice with Host Companies and continue to learn transferable business skills.
Bpeace’s Rwandan Fast Runners shared their personal stories at Columbia University on a panel titled, “Doing Business Our Way: Voices of Rwanda Female Entrepreneurs.”
Four Bpeace Rwanda Fast Runners rolled into Harrisburg, PA in early April 2011 and left with inspiring business lessons in to expand their hospitality, landscaping and funeral service businesses.
The garden center manager held the garden center owner’s face in her hands. A perfect fit for a garden center owner, the woman’s name is Soline. “Soline, does that mean sunshine?” Both women laughed. “Well, Soline means sunshine to me,” said the garden center manager. No, they weren’t celebrating a particularly good sales day. They [...]
The red carpet was the hallway at the global law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf. The fashion statements were more sassy than flashy. The opening video took the night’s first award. The special celebrity guests included a glowing team of Bpeace’s Fast Runners from Afghanistan led by our country director Soraya Omar. Oscar can’t compete with [...]
We hit the ground running in El Salvador. Our task was to cover the ground in six municipalities in 4 days.
Dosti balls are made with top-quality synthetic leather, providing superior bounce and shape; they are attractively silk-screened with a dove bird design in the colors of the Afghan flag. Every purchase of a DOSTI soccer ball creates empowerment through employment for the Afghan women who hand-stitch them.
Shahla’s 26 employees in her Kabul factory hand-make 20 shoes a day, using just one pedal-operated sewing machine and re-purposing used vehicle tires for the soles.
Chips are a favorite snack among Afghans yet they only have access to ones imported from Pakistan that are often burnt and can only be purchased in large, open packages. For Sora, who believes that Afghanistan has the best tasting potatoes in the world, this is an opportunity.
Khalid says his ice cream parlor offers one flavor–”plain.” It’s really cardamom with rosewater–a flavor so exquisite, that when he demonstrated it to a host company they immediately wanted to add the flavor to their menu.
In her extended family, Tahera was the first woman to take a job outside of the home. Today, 20 of her female relatives have followed her example and she is the manager of the Balkh Business Development Company.
Zabi’s family construction company, JAC, focuses on schools and clinics because he understands that rebuilding the physical structures in Afghanistan is essential to rebuilding the country and sustaining peace.
Azi is the co-owner of RAHA which offers IT services in Mazar, Afghanistan, to local businesses, and computer training courses to individuals.
Posted on 01. Nov, 2010 by Donna Fleetwood and Paula Wilbert.
Project Artemis and Bpeace work hand in hand with women in Afghanistan who show potential as business builders. Four Bpeace member/volunteers were on hand last week to see our Fast Runners learn and grow.
For the Fast Runners, Tuesday was their first day in NYC started with morning orientation at Fenton Communications. Then sandwiches (“Why do Americans like cold food?) and off on a double decker bus to tour Manhattan. There are 6 young men in this group, four women, plus Fahim our Entrepreneurial Advisor in Mazar, and Soraya [...]
The end of this journey’s road took us to the Salvadoran countryside. The green was a welcome break from the asphalt streets, cement shopping malls and traffic jams of busy San Salvador.
The solution to break the stalemate of gang violence is not as simple as employment of at risk youth.
Who among these middle market companies can best impact the violence here? We are day four of wall-to-wall meetings with some of the best minds and organizations in El Salvador and we continue to explore.
We are in El Salvador and learning big time in this — Bpeace’s first fact finding expedition!
In exhausting and exhilarating intimate dialogues, we helped the Fast Runners reach their ‘aha’ moments on the steps they need to take to progress their business ideas.
Mobina, a 2007 Fast Runner, invited us to the radio station she operates. With over half a million listeners, her station is one of the most successful in the region.
Bpeace is a witness to the business sophistication and worldliness that is emerging in Afghanistan. (Of course this doesn’t get much airtime anywhere.)
Mazar feels like an Afghan city at peace–-a beacon of hope for the rest of the country.
On our last day in Rwanda we reflected on the jobs and networking group created by Fast Runners and the Business Club formed by applicants to the Bpeace Race to Innovation.
Richard told the women who were in school for hospitality to remember the letters SWOT–know your Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
The demand for high quality good tasting tomatoes is growing at a rapid pace and Shema Farms, operated by Bpeace’s Race to Innovation finalist Sara, cannot keep up.
One of the Business Club founders gave us a tour of the university and described how Bpeace was a key part of the support network that she and her peers access.
What a closing day it was on Friday. Fran’s presentation on personal finance was followed by the final ceremony at the Credo Hotel across the road from Sweet Dreams.
Posted on 22. May, 2010 by Donna Fleetwood and Paula Wilbert.
I met with Herve, a finalist in the Bpeace Race to Innovation, who is attending college in Butare, to talk about his vision for creating jobs for women.
Posted on 21. May, 2010 by Bpeace.
Lively cultural bonding among the Sweet Dreams’ trainees and Bpeace takes the form of a morning song and dance party in our classroom at the National University of Rwanda.
We have been conducting training with this incredible group of potential Sweet Dreams ice cream employees, and they think like experienced businesswomen, not novices.
What we never really expected was that every single woman in our training here in Butare would bring so much joy to our training time together.
It was smiling faces and waving hands that the Bpeace team encountered at the first training for the Sweet Dreams ice cream store.
Posted on 16. May, 2010 by Bpeace.
When 7 entrepreneurs weren’t selected as finalists for the Bpeace Race to Innovation they founded a Business Club instead of getting discouraged.
On May 12, more than 200 guests celebrated Bpeace’s successful 2010 DanceGiving FUNraising campaign at the City Winery to raise much-needed capital.
Hervé Debarego chose to start a food delivery service in Kigali after witnessing three women dashing through the city, attempting to escape from the police.
This year’s Afghan Fast Runner Annual Meeting was held at the Afghan Women’s Business Federation (AWBF). The room was filled with cakes and cookies and smiles.
And through it all while we have learned so much about business, I think the greater lessons were about each other and our shared humanity.
Posted on 11. Apr, 2009 by Phyllis Rosen.
I spent time with salon owners Harriet and Jeanne, and we came up with a big change to benefit their customers: regular appointments with favorite stylists.
After running her manufacturing company out of a tent, Fatima and her 77 female carpenters will now be transitioning to a real building that Bpeace helped her purchase.
Posted on 08. Nov, 2008 by Stephen Kulovits.
“We need customer service!” Everywhere I go in Rwanda, that’s what I hear. All of our Fast Runners clamor for assistance in customer service training for their employees.
Posted on 17. Oct, 2008 by Michelle Cote.
Four Bpeace Fast Runners are food processors who will spend two weeks in Maine learning from entrepreneurial natural and organic food companies.
Bpeace Fast Runners Jeanne and Sylvie have a dream: The Beauty School of Rwanda, a first of its kind vocational school bringing a future to the youth of Rwanda.
As a cookbook author, public television host, chef and restaurateur, Lidia Bastianich accepted Bpeace’s first-ever Economic Impact Award for her achievements.
Building a brand requires a marketing strategy. The Action Marketing Team, a pop-up group of marketers, transformed the face of our Rwandan Fast Runners’ businesses
Fifteen Afghan Fast Runners arrived in Dubai for the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip. They will be taking business classes and going on site visits.
Our first corporate sponsor is traveling with us! Regis Corporation, one of the U.S.’s largest operators of beauty salons and retail stores, is training Bpeace’s salon owners.
Our honored speakers at the 2007 Gala were two of our very own Bpeace colleagues: Palwasha and Richard. You can read their speeches below.
Posted on 16. Apr, 2007 by Toni Maloney.
Kamela, who now employs 12 people in her Business Development Service consultancy, trained 3,000 people throughout Afghanistan to start businesses in the last year.
Back in Rwanda by critical acclaim, Sabra held court at Richard’s office. She met with Associates to review finances and discuss how, as she says, “the numbers tell the story.”
Posted on 11. Dec, 2006 by Kate Buggeln.
Our mission: opening our Fast Runners’ new co-operative store called Rainbow Artisans; it’s the first all-female owned cooperative in Kabul.
Posted on 13. Jul, 2006 by Kate Buggeln.
Athena and Kate met with the Bpeace Fast Runners involved in the Rainbow Artisans cooperative. We worked with 12 Associates on their strategic and development plans.
Posted on 11. May, 2006 by Bpeace.
Most of the women have clear visions for where they want their businesses to be in the future. Now it’s our role to help them get there.
We started asking the Associates, “What’s new? What’s happened since we last caught up?” To hear all the progress in one sitting made the Bpeacers feel terrific.
This message of empowerment from two of Bpeace’s members, fitness gurus Jeff and Julie Castaldo, has a whole different meaning here in Afghanistan.
The goat stew and the savory “bananas” are excellent. There we bright sun and low humidity during the day and the flowers are blooming and the evening air is so lovely.
12 extraordinary entrepreneurs from Afghanistan are in New York for a three-week training program. The women attended classes at FIT and saw the city from above it all.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America arranged for the ladies to meet Behnaz Sarafpour at her design studio. For Palwasha, it is the highlight of the day.
Posted on 13. Feb, 2005 by Toni Maloney.
When our Afghan entrepreneurs had their first “aha” moment today, you could measure the ripple of happiness that went through the Kabul mission team.
Claudia B.M. – Santa Tecla, Food Processing. 80 employees. Claudia is at the helm of a family-owned business that produces packaged spices and ethnic/fruit drink powders. Bpeace volunteers and Traveling Mentors have helped Claudia restructure bank loans, develop new products, improve her packaging, and introduced her to U.S. importers. _________________________________________________________________ Claudia M.P. – Santa Tecla, [...]