Afghan and Rwandan Women Entrepreneurs Arrive in Dallas for Business Program

07 Jul 2015 | AT&T

Tagged: Volunteering and Mentoring, Diversity, News,

PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program aims to empower women globally through U.S. based mentorship and leadership training opportunities

DALLAS, July 7, 2015 – Over the next week, 20 women entrepreneurs from Afghanistan and Rwanda will arrive in Dallas to participate in the 2015 PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program. PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS®, part of the Institute of the Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW), provides training and mentorship to female entrepreneurs that equip and empower them to transform their lives, their communities and, ultimately, their home countries.

Having overcome political turmoil – such as the Rwandan Genocide and Taliban rule – gender oppression, and poverty, these women have persevered and are bringing sustainable and profitable businesses to their communities. These entrepreneurs, in areas including fashion, large-scale farming, and news and media production, will spend two weeks in the United States to gain valuable skills and insight they can use to build and expand their own businesses, as well as train others in their communities.

“These women demonstrate that economic stability can lead to real change– community by community, and country by country,” said Cynthia Marshall, Senior Vice President – Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, AT&T.

“We are honored to once again have the support of sponsors, like AT&T,” said Terry Neese, IEEW founder and CEO. “We started PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® nine years ago because it became clear that economically stable societies have a much greater capacity for peace. The women who participate in our program play a valuable role in strengthening their local economies and empowering the next generation of women leaders.”

The circumstances that the participants have already overcome are astonishing.

  • Homa, after being raised in Taliban-controlled Kandahar, recently helped establish an organization to build education hostels for young girls in Afghanistan and started a clothing business where she intends to employ and train vulnerable Afghan women with technical skills;
  • Bella, having grown up in a Ugandan refugee camp, started a business consulting agency and is a part of numerous committees that support local businesses and needy Kigali women; and
  • Humira opened the first and only women’s news agency in Afghanistan that reports on women’s political issues.

Since its inception, PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® has graduated more than 500 women business owners from Rwanda and Afghanistan. More than 80% of graduates are still in business today. On average, each PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® graduate creates 22 jobs when they return home to Rwanda, and in Afghanistan that number climbs to 28 new jobs.

“These women demonstrate that economic stability can lead to real change– community by community, and country by country,” said Cynthia Marshall, senior vice president – human resources and chief diversity officer, AT&T. “Empowering the participants with knowledge to grow and maintain their businesses is a unique opportunity for our employees who volunteer to witness the global impact of this work and how interconnected our communities area cross the globe.”

The PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® training program in Dallas will include activities at the AT&T University in Las Colinas, TX and AT&T Headquarters:

  • Three-day business boot camp, including lessons on accounting, marketing, and planning and a luncheon panel moderated by Former Ambassador Jeanne Phillips and other PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® women participants.
  • One-on-one mentorship experience with an American woman business owner in each participant’s field of business.
  • International Women’s Economic Summit.
  • Graduation ceremony at the George W. Bush Presidential Center with keynote speaker, Carly Fiorina, Former AT&T executive and Former CEO of Hewlett Packard.
  • Click here to register for the graduation. Press is welcome.


About IEEW:

The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW), started in 2006, is an Oklahoma City based 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to empower women to grow their businesses, pursue greater entrepreneurial ventures and become more active public policy advocates. The Institute accomplishes this mission by focusing on education, mentorship and coaching women in the United States and abroad who are seeking to acquire entrepreneurial skills to help start and grow a business. IEEW works with a network of mentors, corporate sponsors, and private donors across the United States to accomplish its work.

About AT&T:

AT&T provides opportunities for employees to use their unique passions and abilities to improve their communities. Continuing its century-long tradition of community service and giving, AT&T encourages employees to work together to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2013, employees and retirees donated more than 5.3 million hours to community outreach activities and pledged more than $35 million to charities of their choice through employee giving. Employees also committed to more than 36,000 sustainable choices through Do One Thing (DOT), a company-wide initiative which invites participants to make small, everyday choices that add up to a big positive impact for themselves and their communities, as well as AT&T.