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Stories of bravery, transformation and impact.

Afghanistan

We’ve known them on paper for months, but this trip—we call it the Mazar Summit—was the first time the Bpeace volunteers were meeting our new group of Fast Runners in person.

Soraya Omar, Bpeace’s Afghan Country Director, and our new hire in Mazar—Dr. Fahim Qaderi—planned the week-long Summit for five volunteers from the U.S. to meet 26 Afghan Fast Runners. And for Bpeace—two big firsts. The program is based in Mazar (with 8 Kabul Fast Runners) and includes men in addition to women! Having men is a surprising non-issue for the women—we believe this is because this is our youngest group of entrepreneurs—age range 21-35. Though on the first day the men and the women were sitting on separate sides of the room waiting for the icebreaker. That quickly changed and by dinner day two you can see the mixing for yourself in the photos.

Bpeace is a witness to the growth and change in Afghanistan, and the business sophistication and worldliness that is emerging. (Of course this doesn’t get much airtime anywhere.) Example: six years ago, the only businesswomen we could find were in handicraft. Three years ago, only 15 percent of our entrepreneurs spoke English and knew how to use a computer, and none had ever heard the term HR (human resources). Today, 70% of our group speaks English, we have women entrepreneurs in IT, electrical engineering and shoe manufacturing, and men in industrial cleaning and jewelry design. (We are giggling with delight at being a part of this.)

After two days of training, dinner was a family affair. We dined under the stars al fresco (oops we’re not in Tuscany, though it felt like it, so in Dari we dined “mila”)with our entire group. Special guests included Mobina and Ferishta from our previous group of entrepreneurs and we met their husbands and babies too.

Speaking of family, our new Fast Runners include the daughter of Fatima, from our previous group; Khan Aga, the husband of BahktNazeria from our first group; and Azam, the husband of Taj of our second group. Entrepreneurship in families is spreading!

We’ve known them on paper for months, but this trip—we call it the Mazar Summit—was the first time the Bpeace volunteers were meeting our new group of Fast Runners in person.

Soraya Omar, Bpeace’s Afghan Country Director, and our new hire in Mazar—Dr. Fahim Qaderi—planned the week-long Summit for five volunteers from the U.S. to meet 26 Afghan Fast Runners. And for Bpeace—two big firsts. The program is based in Mazar (with 8 Kabul Fast Runners) and includes men in addition to women! Having men is a surprising non-issue for the women—we believe this is because this is our youngest group of entrepreneurs—age range 21-35. Though on the first day the men and the women were sitting on separate sides of the room waiting for the icebreaker. That quickly changed and by dinner day two you can see the mixing for yourself in the photos.

Bpeace is a witness to the growth and change in Afghanistan, and the business sophistication and worldliness that is emerging. (Of course this doesn’t get much airtime anywhere.) Example: six years ago, the only businesswomen we could find were in handicraft. Three years ago, only 15 percent of our entrepreneurs spoke English and knew how to use a computer, and none had ever heard the term HR (human resources). Today, 70% of our group speaks English, we have women entrepreneurs in IT, electrical engineering and shoe manufacturing, and men in industrial cleaning and jewelry design. (We are giggling with delight at being a part of this.)

After two days of training, dinner was a family affair. We dined under the stars al fresco (oops we’re not in Tuscany, though it felt like it, so in Dari we dined “mila”)with our entire group. Special guests included Mobina and Ferishta from our previous group of entrepreneurs and we met their husbands and babies too.

Speaking of family, our new Fast Runners include the daughter of Fatima, from our previous group; Khan Aga, the husband of BahktNazeria from our first group; and Azam, the husband of Taj of our second group. Entrepreneurship in families is spreading!

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