More than 400 women business owners have graduated from the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women’s PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program, which supports and educates women in developing and war-torn countries.
The Pickens Foundation has supported the nonprofit 501(c)3 since Dr. Terry Neese held the first annual classes in 2007. Through its PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program, the Institute provides long-term business training to women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. IEEW was founded on the idea that when you empower a woman, you empower a nation. The Pickens Foundation shares the vision to empower these women economically, socially, and politically.
The graduates’ success has created economic stability and additional employment opportunities for their communities and countries. In addition to the business courses, U.S. women business entrepreneurs mentor the participants. The Institute attributes much of the success of its program to the mentors involved.
“Philanthropic investment in programs such as this is not just about planting trees today, although the economic schooling these women receive can start producing immediate dividends,” Pickens says. “Of more importance, the passing-along of this knowledge also fosters economic growth in the future. Successful entrepreneurs grow a healthy economy. There is a saying that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, but the second best time is now.”
One of its students, Safoora Ghasemi, launched the Highland Hotel and Restaurant in Afghanistan’s Barniyan Province in 2013. She opened the hotel with hopes of drawing tourists to the area. “As a business owner, I care about the tourism industry in Bamiyan and Afghanistan,” she says, noting that the Highland Hotel and Restaurant offers 16 rooms, a conference room, an international restaurant, a gym, tour guide, and mini-bazaar. “We at Highland Hotel have created a modern facility with traditional decorations serving all the local and international tourists.”
The entrepreneurial passion of another participant, Sonia Ntukanyagwe, drove her to create Shokola Lite Ltd. in Kacyiru, Rwanda, in 2009. “My passion is coffee, food, baking and being of service to people,” she says. Her vision was to serve as a community resource for artists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers. Guests can indulge in coffee, food, and baked treats while enjoying such things as book club gatherings, art exhibitions, poetry reading, movie nights, and other events.
“By participating in PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS®, all of our graduates experience training in marketing, accounting, and management skills — allowing them to bring free market principles to their countries,” says Dr. Terry Neese, founder and CEO of the program. “The Pickens Foundation support has helped these global entrepreneurial roots take hold.”
For more information, visit www.ieew.org