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 peacebuilding. Anne Glauber, Millicent White Fortunoff, Toni Maloney, Ann Mincey, Paige Churchman and Amber Chand find common ground when then UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyser tells of the plight of Rwandan 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 ships 30 refurbished computers to Kabul, Afghanistan. Microsoft donates Windows and Office software. The newly formed Afghan Women’s Business Council (AWBC) 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 and on CNN and NPR, and places more than $100,000 into the hands of the Rwandan basket weavers who comprise 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 them today.
Bpeace volunteers travel to Afghanistan and interview 40 Afghan businesswomen. Twenty are selected to be part of our three-year program--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 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. With our facilitation, five of our Fast Runners are accepted into the two-week Artemis program for female Afghan entrepreneurs at Thunderbird University in Phoenix, Arizona. Bpeace separates from the Global Peace Initiative of Women to form our own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
With the support of the U.S. Department of State and collaboration with some of New York City’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.
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. Nineteen women become our first Rwandan 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.
With $40,000 from Bpeace donors, an Afghan Fast Runner entrepreneur starts construction on her pre-school in Kabul for 150 children. Regis Salons becomes the first Bpeace corporate sponsor to participate on a Bpeace expedition. The company provides vocational training to nearly 40 Rwandan hairstylists. 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.
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 U.S. 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.
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 have 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. Bpeace works with two 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 provides guidance to bring DOSTI soccer balls, hand-stitched by Afghan women, to market. The Andrew Goodman Foundation names Bpeace Co-founder and CEO Toni Maloney as the recipient of a Hidden Heroes Award.
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 Washington, DC, Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, representing one of the few U.S. nonprofits among the 300 participants from 60 countries. Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream reaches out to Bpeace to help train the staff of its new Sweet Dreams shop in Butare, Rwanda--employing 10 women from a local drumming circle. Bpeace members travel to Rwanda to coach the women 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. Bpeace fields its first expedition to El Salvador to meet with government, nonprofit and business influentials. The Clinton Global Initiative extends an invitation to Bpeace to make a commitment at its annual meeting.
Four Rwandan Fast Runners pay their own way and travel to the U.S. in a Bpeace-orchestrated road trip where they apprentice on the job at U.S. firms. Ritz-Carlton is among the Host Companies. Citi Foundation gives Bpeace 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's Office of Citizen Exchanges to bring 30 Afghan entrepreneurs to apprentice in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013.
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's Professional Fellows Program, we bring Afghan technology entrepreneurs to the U.S. to apprentice at Host Companies including PwC, Three Ships Media, High Point Solutions, Outright.com and Gartner. Bpeace Co-founder and CEO Toni Maloney is named a Purpose Prize finalist.
Building on our success in El Salvador, we decide to launch our Fast Runner program in neighboring Guatemala. A grant from the U.S. Department of State's Professional Fellows Program provides the acceleration we need. We field an open competition and 80 Guatemalan business owners apply for 10 Fast Runner slots. Inflatable Film, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Bpeace form an alliance to help accelerate the growth of the Rwandan film industry and launch RwandaFilm.org. We hold our 10th Anniversary Gala in New York City, presenting Gamechanger Awards to Dress Barn founder Roslyn Jaffe as Bpeace’s first Host Company; to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for their financial support that enabled us to bring dozens of Afghans to the U.S. to learn best business practices and develop relationships with industry experts; and to UN Women (as UNIFEM), which provided guidance during our founding that pointed us to Rwanda and Afghanistan.
The Fast Runner entrepreneurs in our portfolio increased by 33%. 65% of these are women-owned or led businesses. Our Afghan business Fast Runners grew jobs by 63%, and those in El Salvador, 33%.Through a Bpeace program with the U.S. Department of State, 72 U.S. Host Companies opened their doors to 28 Central American Fast Runners and shared best practice knowledge in employee engagement, technology, sales, marketing, distribution, new product development, finance, KPIs and more.Bpeace business volunteers contributed $1.6 million of their time (as valued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
2014-2016 Business Council for Peace. All Rights Reserved.Business Council for Peace (Bpeace) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN/tax ID number: 20-1602122).