Bpeace Blog Briefs

Stories of bravery, transformation and impact.

Kabul Fast Runners past and present convene

Fast RunnersOnce 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.

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The cents of scooping in Rwanda


Jerrie Gullick, a retired Pontiflex exec, describes Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams) Ice Cream as an oasis in Butare. “Both the staff and the store’s appearance are friendly and welcoming and it is clear that they have worked hard on customer service. It is an inviting place to walk into and there is no other place with the same atmosphere in Butare; it is a very positive change.”

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One Million Jobs Fundraising Extravaganza

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.

We auctioned off Daily Show tickets, took photos on the "red carpet," and had the opportunity to meet New York Times best selling author and emcee for the night, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. With the help of Samsung, we highlighted our members, Fast Runners, and the countries in which we work on high definition screens--ranging from pocket-size to an entire wall. We ate a tower of Butter Lane cupcakes and kept things cool with heaping scoops of Blue Marble ice cream.

Fundraising awards were given out to a few select Bpeacers who went above and beyond to make our One Million Jobs campaign a big success.

  • The Top Fundraiser Award, bringing in money from over 60 donors, went to Susan McPherson.
  • The Top Young Professional Fundraising Award went to Delilah Rothenberg.
  • The Top New Bpeace Member Fundraising Award went to both Karen Vander Linde and Mallory Martino.

A special shout out to other Bpeace members who met or surpassed the $1,000 OMJ fundraising goal:

Loretta Davis, Ann Callison, Kara Castagna, Toni Maloney, Gita Patel, Stephen Kulovits, Liz Pulver, Dana Kuznetzkoff, Neil Charran, Meave Murphy, Karoline Barwinski, Biz Ghormley, Khristine Queja, Donna Fleetwood, Pamela Massenburg, Sabra Richardson, Monica Sanz, Aliana Pineiro, and Fahima Ahad.

The night capped the end of a four-month grassroots fundraising campaign that brought nearly 700 donors to Bpeace .  The campaign would not have been possible without the diligent coordination of the OMJ11 co-chairs:

Karoline Barwinski, Kara Castagna, Neil Charran, Biz Ghormley, Pam Massenburg,  Susan McPherson, Aliana Pineiro, Delilah Rothenberg, Nicole Stipp, Joanna Szaro, and Lori White.

A very special thank you to our incredible sponsors for the evening:

Samsung Experience which donated the venue!

Blue Marble, Bourbon CoffeeButter Lane, Camera OneHeather Williams ShoesLiving SocialScott Clark Photography.

Avon FoundationAvedaLe BernardinCrown PublishingHarperCollins Publishers.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Late Show with David Letterman, Morning Joe Show, Daily Show with Jon Stewart, New Jersey Performing Arts CenterLincoln Center.

Anfora, Bric’s Luggage, Bubble Lounge, Clearbridge Advisors, Dave Shelley, dell’anima, Dolium Winery Argentina, Equinox, Gather, Gotham Hotel, The Great LerdiniL’Artusi, Laura Rosenthal Casting, Laurie Chock, Lori White, Mandarin Oriental (Las Vegas), Maribeth Fox, Mirbeau Inn & Spa, Monini North AmericaMoritz Photography, Neil Charran, Nolita House, Om Hop Yoga, Philosophy, Pranna Lounge, Red Rooster, Ruth’s Chris SteakhouseSodaStream.

Marketing skills to Afghanistan via Dubai

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.

I took a week off from my job at Microsoft in Seattle to share my marketing skills as a member of Bpeace.  The Dubai Summit was originally scheduled for Mazar, Afghanistan.  The trip was moved, however,  after the raid on the UN compound in Mazar on April 4th.  My training colleagues  were Jonathan  Liljegren from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Phyllis Rosen, a retired Ogivly exec.

Originally I was disappointed that we weren’t going into Afghanistan, but was later excited by the hospitality of the Dubai Women’s College (DWC) where we held all of the workshops and one-on-one clinics.

On the opening day of the Summit we heard from two graduated Afghan Fast Runners--Taj and Aziza--who now collaborate on a joint venture--DOSTI soccer balls.  Together, they employ more than  500 women who hand-stitch balls for export to the U.S., Canada and Germany.  From her own home, a woman who stitches DOSTI soccer balls can earn more than the average Afghan government worker.

The following three days were spent in classroom workshops in the mornings and individual clinic sessions in the afternoon. The Fast Runners were split into three teams and each morning I taught a session on marketing to one of the teams.  We went through a Bpeace Growth Guide marketing workbook that I helped develop to  improve their core skills.  Then we discussed real-world examples. The entrepreneurs were quick to give their input and ideas and build off of each other.

In the afternoons, I paired with a DWC faculty member and met individually with each of the Fast Runners from the morning session.  These meetings gave us the opportunity to hash out individual problems or questions and have an in-depth discussion about implementing change.  When not in clinic sessions, the Fast Runners worked as teams on business case challenges.

Our work with Zarghuna, who owns a beauty salon, really highlighted how a combination of marketing, finance and HR can be used to address a given issue.   Zarghuna is having a problem--after she trains her employees across all services (hair, nails, massage, etc.) they soon leave to start their own businesses.  We recommended that she have employees specialize in one service instead of training them in all areas.  Then Zarghuna will reduce the risk of employees leaving to start their own salons, increase the quality of her services by having “specialists” that she can promote, and also reduce training costs.

It was truly an inspiration to work with these men and women to help grow their businesses in a very challenging nation. Their passion for creating sustainable jobs and rebuilding their country is remarkable, and I believe is key to bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Filtering HR practices to the Afghan culture

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.  I was part of a specialized training and coaching team that included Jonathan Liljegren from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Johnna Hobgood from Microsoft.

We were fortunate to have access to the terrific facilities at the Dubai Women’s College (DWC). It’s so interesting how bold the Afghan women looked with merely their head scarves next to the local women in Dubai – the Emirati – all in abayas (black head coverings and robes, many with their faces covered, some even with the old metal face coverings).

In the mornings, I taught a workshop on HR to each team of five Fast Runners. In the afternoon I held an HR clinic with a DWC faculty member where the Fast Runners met with us individually to talk about an HR issue they were dealing with in their business. I pulled so much knowledge from my Ogilvy days into those sessions.

These problems were fascinating:

• Entrepreneurs losing trained professional staff to the NGOs (non-profits) that pay them three times as much – despite the fact that the NGOs are in the country to help develop Afghanistan!
• The younger sister who is the head of an electrical business but has an older brother who prices jobs incorrectly and doesn’t show up on time-- but she cannot fire him or even correct his performance in a straightforward fashion because her parents won’t allow it.
• The young woman who must have a third person in the room to speak with a male employee who condescends to her because of her gender.

I love what I have been able to do with Bpeace and to see these entrepreneurs grow and create jobs--which are so needed in Afghanistan.

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