Bpeace History

Founded in the belief that business has a role to play in peacebuilding.

2002 – Geneva with Rwanda on Our Minds

The Global Peace Initiative of Women convenes 700 female spiritual leaders at the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to create a greater role for women in peace-building.

Anne Glauber, Millicent White Fortunoff, Toni Maloney, Ann Mincey, Paige Churchman, and Amber Chand find common ground when the then UNIFEM Executive Director, Noeleen Heyser, tells of the plight of Rwanda genocide widows: “If you could just make a market for the beautiful baskets they weave, they would be able to feed their families and send their children to school.” The Rwanda Peace Basket project is born and from it, The Business Council for Peace.

Bpeace grows as an international network of business professionals who volunteer to help women entrepreneurs in post-conflict countries expand their businesses, create employment and build a more peaceful future for their communities.

2003 – Computers to Kabul, Rwanda Peace Baskets to the U.S.

Bpeace ships 30 refurbished computers to Kabul, Afghanistan. Microsoft donates Windows and Office software. The newly formed Afghan Women’s Business Council (AWBF) now has the tools to teach women life-changing skills.

Bpeace members facilitate the import of Peace Baskets made by Rwandan women widowed during the 1994 genocide. The project is featured in Marie Claire, CNN, and NPR and places more than $100,000 into the hands of the Rwandan basket weavers. The weavers are comprised of previously warring Hutu and Tutsi. This project was later privatized and the Rwanda Peace Baskets are now sold through Macy’s, which continues to thrive with it today.

2004 – Afghanistan, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Candles

Bpeace volunteers travel to Afghanistan and interview 40 Afghan businesswomen. Twenty are selected to be part of our three-year program; they are our first group of Fast Runners. We establish our Kabul office. We train 80 Afghan businesswomen selected by the Afghan Ministry of Commerce.

Bpeace members travel to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. We shuttle between Israeli candle makers and Palestinian embroiderers to facilitate collaboration. The Jerusalem Candle of Hope project is launched and income is generated for Palestinian and Russian Jewish women. The women artisans are not free to cross the checkpoint and meet face-to-face. This project was later privatized and candles are now available from the Prosperity Candle Foundation.

Five of our Fast Runners—with our facilitation—are accepted into the two-week Artemis program for female Afghan entrepreneurs at Thunderbird in Phoenix.

Bpeace separates from the Global Peace Initiative of Women to form our own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

2005 – Afghan Style Road Trip, Rwandan Fast Runners

With the assistance of some of New York’s top fashion designers and educators, the three-week Style Road Trip is a success. Twelve Afghan women entrepreneurs attend customized classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Bpeace volunteers travel to Rwanda to identify Fast Runners--Rwandan businesswomen with established businesses, ripe for acceleration with Bpeace assistance. We open our office in Kigali, Rwanda.

2006 – First Afghan Women’s Retail Co-op, Pilot in Iraq

With the help of Bpeace, The Rangeen Kaman Artisans (RKA) cooperative store becomes a reality. For the first time in Afghanistan’s history, businesswomen pool their resources and create a cooperative store in Kabul. (Photo at top of this page.)

Nineteen women become the first Rwandan Bpeace Fast Runners. Their businesses include an amusement park, commercial landscaping, and freight forwarding.

The American Embassy in Baghdad helps us select eight Iraqi businesswomen for the Bpeace program. The conflict in Iraq escalates and these women are forced to regularly leave Baghdad because of security issues. Repeated efforts to communicate with them are unsuccessful. Bpeace closes down the pilot project in Iraq.

2007 – Building a Pre-school, Training Rwandan Stylists

With $40,000 from Bpeace donors, a Bpeace Afghan entrepreneur starts construction on her pre-school in Kabul for 150 children.

Regis becomes the first Bpeace corporate sponsor to participate on a Bpeace mission. They provide beauty salon vocational training to nearly 40 Rwandan hair stylists.

The first Bpeace Census reveals that women entrepreneurs in our program grow their businesses and employment at a much greater rate than the GDP of their countries.

2008 – Creating Rwandan Brands, Afghans to the U.S.

Bpeace creates a pop-up virtual ad agency to create logos, brands, and marketing collateral for eight Rwandan businesswomen.

Twelve Afghan businesswomen begin their life-changing trip to the US to apprentice on-the-job at American firms. The journey includes stays at more than 40 host companies. BART (Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip) is partially funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Citizen Exchanges, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

2009 – Men, the Race to Innovation, Soccer Balls

In Rwanda, 14 Fast Runner entrepreneurs graduate from the Bpeace three-year program. They operate the kind of neighborhood businesses reflective of vibrant communities: beauty salons, restaurants, retail shops, landscaping, even an amusement park. Together they created 242 jobs that support 1,121 family members.

At the suggestion of the U.S. Department of State, we open our program to Afghan male entrepreneurs.

We launch our first Race to Innovation and 12 semi-finalists--six Afghan, six Rwandan--receive technical advice from U.S. experts in their industries.

Bpeace works with three independent Afghan soccer ball producers to unite them under one export brand in the U.S. A unique fusion of volunteers, corporate partners, and soccer leagues provide guidance to bring these balls to market in 2010.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation names Bpeace CEO Toni Maloney to receive its Hidden Heroes Award.

The Bpeace Board elects Laurie Chock as Chairperson. She is a communications specialist and director of the documentary film THREAD—which follows five of the original Afghan businesswomen in the Bpeace program.

2010 – Ice cream in Butare, Entering Mazar

The Bpeace Board points to the future and creates a vision for One Million Jobs across 1,000 conflict-affected communities.

Bpeace Co-founder and CEO Toni Maloney attends the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, one of the few U.S. non-profits represented among the 300 participants from 60 countries.

Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream reaches out to Bpeace to help train the staff of their new Sweet Dreams shop in Butare—employing 10 women from a local drumming circle. Bpeace members travel to Rwanda to coach in finance and customer service.

Bpeace members travel to Mazar, Afghanistan to onboard 26 Fast Runner entrepreneurs in construction, food service, IT, and manufacturing into our three-year program. The new group includes three second-generation Fast Runners.

Bpeace fields its first expedition to El Salvador to meet with government, non-profit and business influentials. 

The Clinton Global Initiative extends an invitation to Bpeace to make a commitment at its annual meeting.

2011 – Expanding into El Salvador, Rwandans Road Tripping to the U.S.

Four Rwandan Fast Runners pay their own way and travel to the U.S. in a Bpeace-orchestrated Road Trip for them to apprentice on the job at U.S. firms.  Ritz-Carlton is among the Host Companies.

Citi Foundation gives us the seed grant to launch our Fast Runner program in El Salvador. Within a few months we have onboarded food processing, shoe manufacturing, clothing manufacturing and restaurant businesses.

Bpeace Traveling Mentors arrive in Dubai to coach a group of our Afghan Fast Runners, hosted by Dubai Women's College.

We win a fourth grant from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Citizens Exchanges to bring 30 Afghan entrepreneurs to apprentice in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013.

2012 -- Salvadoran Job Growth, Afghan Tech Sector, Rwandan Film Industry

After one year in the Bpeace program, the average Salvadoran Fast Runner posts 10% job growth.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of State Professional Exchanges, we bring Afghan technology entrepreneurs to the U.S. to apprentice at Host Companies including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Three Ships Media, High Point Solutions, Outright.com and Gartner Inc.

Inflatable Film and Bpeace form an alliance to help accelerate the growth of the Rwanda Film Industry.

Bpeace CEO Toni Maloney, named a Purpose Prize Finalist.

The Bpeace Board of Directors elects Kate Buggeln as its Chairperson. Kate is a business growth strategist with a strong retail background and sits on several corporate boards including Ascena Retail Group, Noble Biomaterials, and Vitamin Shoppe.