Koper was one of 28 business owners recently in the U.S. under a program sponsored by the Business Council for Peace, or Bpeace, an organization that helps provide mentoring for entrepreneurs from countries torn by war or violent crime. If companies in those countries become more profitable, they can hire more people and lessen the likelihood of civil war and violence. The program, which receives State Department funding, has also helped owners in Afghanistan and Rwanda.
As the documentary film, Sweet Dreams, opens in theatres, Alexis Miesen elaborates on her collaboration with Bpeace and the women of genocide-affected Butare.
A Little Shop of Possibilities
October 31, 2013
A glowing review of the film, Sweet Dreams, which documents how Blue Marble Ice Cream Company and Bpeace helped a group of Rwandan women successfully open their own ice cream shop.
Local Film Website Launched
July 30, 2013
Bpeace, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Inflatable Films partner to launch Rwandafilm.org. The website is designed to help Rwandan filmmakers make professional connections within the local and global film industries.
A Roadmap for Afghanistan's Economic Future
June 14, 2013
Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna lauds the successful Bpeace model as a way to address Afghanistan's economic crisis. He notes that supporting entrepreneurship can reverse the country’s decline and help women establish a role in the future of Afghanistan.
Leah Warshawski talks about making Finding Hillywood, her documentary about the growth of the Rwandan “Hillywood” film festival. She discusses the communal and therapeutic nature of film, as well as her plans to bring film industry jobs to Rwanda with the assistance of Bpeace.
SIFF: Finding Hillywood
May 14, 2013
Before the Finding Hillywood screening at the Seattle International Film Festival. Bpeace partner, Leah Warshawski talks about filmmaking in Rwanda and her passion for telling stories of survival.
John Kerry Shows Off Soccer Skills in Afghanistan
March 26, 2013
Wrapping up a trip to Afghanistan, John Kerry visits Afghan businesswomen and buys a DOSTI soccer ball made by Bpeace Fast Runners Taj and Aziza.
John Kerry Shows Off Soccer Skills in Afghanistan
March 26, 2013
Kerry speaks to women business owners and the captain on Afghanistan’s national women’s soccer team face in a traditional, male-dominated society.
John Kerry’s Soccer Skills
March 26, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry proved that he can head a soccer ball at a meeting with female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan on Tuesday made by Bpeace Fast Runners Taj and Aziza.
Kerry Heads a Soccer Ball
March 26, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry heads a soccer ball made by Bpeace Fast Runners Taj and Aziza as he meets with Afghan women members of a U.S.-backed women's entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Afghan women business owners in Kabul about their aspirations and fears post-2014. Bpeace Fast Runner Kamila Sidiqi tells CBS about the challenges Afghan women face in accessing business finance and her fear that business will suffer after international troop withdrawal.
John Kerry Plays Soccer with Afghan Women
March 26, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry juggles a soccer ball made by Fast Runners Taj and Aziza during his trip to Kabul in March. He met with Afghan women entrepreneurs in an event organized by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Foreigners Advise Salvadoran Businesses
March 9, 2013
The Salvadoran press covered the visit of Bpeace volunteers and human resource experts Phyllis Rosen and David Montieth as they work with three of our Fast Runners. Central America Regional Director Ana Rosa is interviewed about Bpeace’s work with small business owners in El Salvador.
Bpeace Fast Runner, filmmaker and president of Roya Film House Alka Sadat organized the first international women’s film festival in Heart, Afghanistan from March 7 to 9. Herat was chosen because of its long history of tradition and culture, but also because of it’s high “concentration of violence against women.”
In a bid to attract international tourism, race founder Christoph Zurcher has organized the third Afghan Ski Challenge, with the support of the Aga Khan Foundation and the Rah-e-Abrisham Tourist & Travel Agency, run by Bpeace Afghan Fast Runner Gull Hussian Baizada. The event took place in the Hindu Kush in Bamiyan in March. According to Gull, “The event signifies that life for Afghans is moving forward towards a peaceful future.
Afghan Tech Entrepreneurs Look to the Future
December 29, 2012
CBS reports on the Dot.com revolution in Afghanistan and Bpeace Fast Runner and TechShark co-founder AhmadReza is at the heart of it. Afghan tech entrepreneurs from TechSharks are “building a digital world in Afghanistan that connects Afghan people to other worlds.”
Afghan Woman Carves Out An Entrepreneurial Niche
December 17, 2012
Behind a tall metal gate in a nondescript nook of Kabul sits the Bamboo Wood Industries factory. Sitting in a spartan, unheated office above the factory floor is Fatima Jafari, the owner of the company. The 30-something woman started the business a little over a year ago. Her goal right now is to find financial help so she can open her own showroom and prove to Afghans that local products can be as good as anyone else's.
Toni Maloney fosters entrepreneurship – especially among women – in conflict zones, to create jobs and move communities toward prosperity and peace.
In The Heart Of Afghanistan, Entrepreneurs Innovate For Peace
October 15, 2012
The not-for-profit Bpeace plans to host apprenticeships in Dubai or the U.S. for five Afghan female tech professionals in 2013. "In 2004, the only Afghan women we were working with were in handicrafts, so we have seen the evolution of women moving from production into service businesses," says Bpeace CEO Toni Maloney.
25 Dynamic Women Who Are Changing the World Through Work & Business
September 18, 2012
Susan McPherson: Inspiring Business to Support Social Innovation. Susan serves on the board of Bpeace, “the Business Council for Peace.” Bpeace assists women in regions of conflict and post-conflict to start businesses by utilizing the skills of Bpeace business professionals.
September 5, 2012
“Bpeace allowed us to rethink business strategy, even if that meant an effort. Thanks to that our sales have grown 20% " says Claudia, a food processor and Bpeace Fast Runner.
A quiet, confident woman wearing a traditional head scarf, Afghani businesswoman Nasim Azizi visited Randolph on Monday, one of the many stops planned on her trip around the eastern U.S. Azizi came to Randolph accompanied by Janis Grover, an imported food marketing specialist, who is acting as a host for Bpeace.
Afghan company understudies Silicon Valley firm
April 25, 2012
The visit is part of a two-week program sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the nonprofit Business Council for Peace in New York. The latter group is trying to create more jobs for women in Afghanistan.
With help from the U.S. State Department, Hassan, who, like many Afghans does not use a surname, will spend time shadowing each department at Outright, which helps small businesses and self-employed people better take care of their bookkeeping chores using specialized software. It's the kind of tool that's all over the place here in Silicon Valley. In Kabul, not so much.
Afghan business owners get lesson at DelGrosso
April 20, 2012
Nasim Gul Azizi and Gulbahar Saniazada are among a dozen Afghan business owners who are visiting the United States in cooperation with the nonprofit organization Bpeace and with the support of the U.S. State Department to learn business skills they can take home to Afghanistan.
Peace and Jobs
April 15, 2012
Bpeace‘s Afghan initiative, initially geared towards women but now also including men, spoke to me immediately. Bpeace pairs entrepreneurs from conflict areas with experienced business people in developed countries (and they are looking for skilled volunteers in certain areas to help “advocate” in developing these businesses if you’re interested).
Stronger businesses and innovation are powerful drivers for any country’s peaceful future. This belief drives the nearly 300 business professionals who volunteer their skills in the conflict-affected regions of Afghanistan, Rwanda and El Salvador under the big tent of the non-profit Bpeace.
Strength In Numbers
November 28, 2011
One way Bpeace raises funds is through small donations by people who read the blogs that chronicle volunteers' efforts and the progress of the businesses they're helping. It also gains support from donors who reach out to friends and associates for periodic fund-raising campaigns.
October 20, 2011
When you think of this country's so-called soft power, you probably focus on popular culture and the siren song of the energetic immigrant's dream. You probably don't think of hair-styling tips. But that's what the U.S. was exporting Tuesday morning at Bumble and bumble to Zarghuna who owns four salons in Afghanistan that serve 4,000 women a year.
Value Added: An Exchange Program for Entrepreneurs
October 15, 2011
There’s a line from the late television series “The West Wing” that has stuck with me. It went something like, “Trade between countries prevents wars.” The dialogue came to mind when I learned that Afghan entrepreneur Ahmad Reza was coming to Washington to learn business smarts from two thriving local companies: visual storyteller Jess3, and Web strategist Threespot.
KFRM Hosts Farm Broadcaster from Afghanistan
November 21, 2011
In October, Rassoul, a farm broadcaster from Mazar-e-Sharif, spent several days in central Kansas as the guest of Kyle Bauer and KFRM radio in Clay Center. Rassoul's trip was made possible by the Business Council for Peace (Bpeace).
Entrepreneurship in a War Zone
November 15, 2011
Like any jewelry maker, Khanaqa Niazi thinks a lot about gemstones, the cost of precious metals, and designs that will delight the women who wear them. Unlike most, he is operating a business in a war zone. His and his wife’s handicrafts and jewelry store, Good News, is in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Afghan Entrepreneur Reflects on Apprenticeship
November 2, 2011
Khan Aga, an Afghan entrepreneur, visited Winter Park last week as a guest of Bajalia International as part of an entrepreneurship program sponsored by the State Department and Business Council for Peace. Before heading back to Afghanistan, he was interviewed by Debbie Farah, CEO and founder of Bajalia, about his experience in Winter Park.
Knowledge to Take Back Home
October 29, 2011
In a small office in Philadelphia, the owner of an Afghan electrical engineering firm set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote her business. While in Bethlehem, she got an idea to expand her business to include engine repairs. And that was just in the first week of Zuhal’s visit to the United States.
Toni Maloney’s Path to Peace: Create Jobs
October 27, 2011
Ms. Maloney, the co-founder and CEO of Bpeace, has a good track record. A perfect example is Zarghuna, a hair stylist in Afghanistan, who has has over 4,000 clients. When Bpeace started helping Zarghuna in May 2010, she had one salon. Now she has four salons and 65 employees. She is currently in New York as an apprenticeship with the hair salon Bumble and bumble.
South Philly Electrician Gives Afghan Contractor an Eye-opener
October 20, 2011
Zuhal, visiting from Afghanistan on a State Department-backed exchange program, says business, Philadelphia-style, takes some getting used to. "I'm learning many things here," she told me in the office of Generation 3 Electric Inc. "The ways people manage their business and their people here are so respectful. Friendly. It's mutual respect. The guys are helpful."
Business Life After Death in Rwanda
May 4, 2011
Three Rwandan graduates of the Bpeace program, visited the U.S. during a trip that paired them with American businesses. The participants included Languida Nyirababeruka, who founded a funeral home, after the 1994 genocide. At the time, there was no one business that provided all funeral-related items and services, like coffins, transportation and flowers
A group of Rwandan female entrepreneurs traveled to the United States to learn from their American counterparts. The women, survivors of the 1994 genocide, were graduates of a three-year program created by the Business Council for Peace.
Women of Afghanistan’s Future
April 15, 2011
Just publicly telling their stories can bring it’s own risks. But Fatima and her daughter Shahla, both Bpeace Fast Runners, have come to the U.S. to keep women’s rights in Afghanistan in the forefront. And it starts with the businesses they built.
Rwandan Landscaper Shines in PA
April 14, 2011
Soline owns a landscaping business and garden center. Erica Shaffer, is the Nursery Manager for Highland Gardens. The two women found themselves on the same continent thanks to Bpeace.
Images of Afghan Women Rebuilding Their Lives
April 21, 2011
Paula Lerner is passionate about using photographic images to tell stories. And in 2005, when the photojournalist became involved with the nonprofit Bpeace, she found herself telling one of the most important stories of her career. A collection of images from that narrative, detailing ordinary people in Afghanistan going about their daily lives, has gone on display.
In her visits to Afghanistan, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon discovered that it is commonplace for women to build successful businesses in order to support their families. In her book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Lemmon brings this point to light by telling us the compelling story of one heroic teenage girl--Kamila Sidiq. Actually, Lemmon found Kamila through Bpeace.
Women Help Each Other Start Businesses in Afghanistan
January 28, 2011
Many of the women entrepreneurs are beneficiaries of development programs started in Afghanistan that are aimed at increasing women’s business skills, including the New York-based nonprofit Bpeace. Bpeace has graduated 56 high-potential entrepreneurs from its hands-on, three-year mentoring and skills-building program.
As the Taliban Falls, Afghan Women Rise
December 12, 2010
Shala is 19, living in Kabul and is someone you don't often see in Afghanistan — a female boss with men working for her. But her vision goes much further than her small shoe manufacturing company. With the help of the organization Bpeace, Shahla recently traveled to New York where she met with top shoe designer Heather Williams.
Who says your daily dose of feel-good inspiration can't come from a pair of shoes? I recently met an incredible young Afghan woman who's challenging stereotypes, breaking barriers, and creating unparalleled independence for herself through some very fancy footwork.
Young Afghan Shoemaker Learns Skills from Batavia Business
November 8, 2010
A young female entrepreneur from Afghanistan recently spent time in Batavia as part of a tour of U.S. businesses. The visit was sponsored by Bpeace and hosted by P.W. Minor, the Batavia-based shoe manufacturer.
At the Aurora Shoe Co., two shoemakers from worlds thousands of miles apart in so many ways recently met for the first time.
Internship program helps Afghans sample life in America
November 6, 2010
Under sanction of the U.S. State Department, Bpeace, has been bringing highly qualified, Afghans to the United States for training, mentoring and internships. The goal is to prepare the Afghans to return to their country, where they will use the skills and knowledge to grow their fledgling businesses.
Creating Jobs, Creating Peace
November 5, 2010
Bpeace Fast Runner Sora spent time at North Fork Chips with Carol and Martin Soder, who provided guidance on production methods, quality control and employee training. She was impressed by the Soder's efficient operation and welcomed their advice on packaging, marketing and distribution.
East End Welcomes Young Afghan Entrepreneurs
November 3, 2010
To Bpeace Fast Runner Khalid Rahimi, to taste flavored yogurt for the first time was to taste America. In his homeland, he said, the only flavor available is plain.
Afghan Woman Sharpens Skills at Batavia Shoe Company
October 30, 2010
While the country was still parsing sound bites about a national journalist who quakes inwardly when he sees a fellow airline passenger in Muslim garb, a Batavia company showed no such hesitation in opening its doors this week to a young Muslim entrepreneur.
For Afghan, Give Cheese a Chance
October 26, 2010
Khalid, from Afghanistan, learned about cheese-making with Art Ludlow of Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton yesterday. Khalid is one of 10 young Afghan entrepreneurs brought to the area by Bpeace.
What About Afghan Women?
October 23, 2010
One impressive force for change is Bpeace, which encourages female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. Sora Stoda, one of the entrepreneurs I met, is building a potato chip factory. Another, Shahla Akbari, makes shoes. Her mother, Fatima Akbari, has 3,000 (mostly female) employees around Afghanistan, working in jam-making, furniture building, tailoring, knitting, jewelry and other lines.
Dream Coming True on North Fork
October 22, 2010
Since she was a little girl, Sora Stoda has had a vision of creating the first-ever potato chip factory in her homeland of Afghanistan. Last week, the 21-year-old from Kabul was on the North Fork learning about potato chip-making from the owners of a small plant in Cutchogue.
Afghan Woman Learns About Potato Chips on LI
October 20, 2010
"I can't believe I'm here in a potato chip firm," said Sora Stoda, 21, who came to Cutchogue from her home in Kabul, Afghanistan, to learn the craft of mass producing what some call snack food and others consider guilty little pleasures.
The Healers of 9/11
September 9, 2010
Another initiative has been to train Afghan women, through a group called Business Council for Peace, to run a soccer ball manufacturing company. The bosses have been coached in quality control, inventory management and other skills, and they have recruited unemployed widows to stitch the balls — which are beginning to be exported under the brand Dosti.
Where to Volunteer in Summer
July 9, 2010
What if you could help women in areas affected by war and conflict, build their businesses and create employment – places like Afghanistan, El Salvador, Rwanda and Bosnia?
Leader Lends Hand in Rwanda
July 3, 2010
Fran Pastore's trip to Africa had nothing to do with building schools or churches. It involved plenty of hard work and community-building consequences, but her hands stayed clean and she barely broke a sweat.
June 21, 2010
This week, the non-profit Bpeace pushed its Race for Innovation, a business plan contest for businesswomen in Afghanistan and Rwanda.
Support Social Entrepreneurs
May 14, 2010
To help local economies rebuild themselves in two countries plagued by war, Bpeace presents the Race to Innovation, an online competition that is raising money for six social entrepreneurs.
Award for Excellent Innovation
Bpeace, a non-profit organization, on Wednesday awarded six entrepreneurial youths for their outstanding business proposals that will soon develop into income-generating projects.
Global Entrepreneurship Week
Nov 16, 2009
Bpeace has shown if you can start a movement in enabling and empowering women to at least have a shot at doing something entrepreneurial, you're going to find remarkable things happening.
Amusement Park in Rwanda
July/August 2009 issue
There’s no other park like this in Rwanda; it has something for everyone. And places where people can be together help reduce the conflicts between them.
Cash for Innovation
Rwanda entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas will receive a financial boost from Bpeace. The organization said the money will be awarded to the brightest and most talented entrepreneurs through competition.
Give Bpeace a Chance
March 9, 2009
Today we learn how Bpeace.org helps women entrepreneurs worldwide in countries recovering from war with special guest Susan McPherson.
Calling for Change
November 27, 2008
Entrepreneurial spirit has been dampened by three decades of war. However, over the past two years I have been continuously awestruck by the resilience of the Afghan business owners.
Afghan Women In Business
September 22, 2008
Chock embarked on two journeys: to make a difference in the lives of a few courageous Afghan women and to direct “Thread,” an intimate documentary of real life in Afghanistan.
Doing Business in Afghanistan
August 22, 2008
Hamidi launched Kandahar Treasure with the goal of helping women artisans sell their embroidered goods. The business now employs 450 people and sells in Afghanistan, Canada, and the U.S.
Bastianich Honored By Bpeace
May 15, 2008
Lidia Bastianich was honored at the Bpeace gala for her work as an entrepreneur and role model. Her success makes her an example of what Bpeace is trying to achieve.
Afghan Woman Is All Business
January 29, 2008
In a small office hidden behind a gate in Kabul, Kamela Sediqi sits at her laptop and builds her business. The unlikely entrepreneur is the architect of Kaweyan Business Development Services.
In a new multimedia feature, an extraordinary group of Afghan women entrepreneurs are telling their untold stories, five years after the fall of the Taliban.
After a whole year of laying foundation for able business women in the country, Bpeace, US-based NGO has embarked on helping the same women design public peace building projects.
Live on CNN
December 9, 2007
These heroes are individuals whose names may not be familiar, but their stories are remarkable. Our finalist Rangina Hamidi builds economic equality for women in Afghanistan by teaching them a skill like learning to sew.
Prosperity for Afghan Women
Thrilled with her healthy lifestyle, she opened a gym for women. While that might not sound like a revolutionary accomplishment, it was for Nargis, a young single woman in Afghanistan.
Peace Projects in Rwanda
After a whole year of laying foundation for able business women in the country, Bpeace, U.S.-based NGO has embarked on helping the same women design public peace building projects.
Cut-and-run Not a Possibility
December 29, 2006
This seemed a good moment to revisit the folks running Spirit of America and the Business Council for Peace. They're not going to leave....
November 15, 2006
Rebuilding Afghanistan requires local commitment and international support. It also requires sufficient stability in the present so that Afghans can focus on the future.