Bpeace (Business Council for Peace) is a not-for profit organization based in New York City, and founded in 2002. Bpeace operates under the slogan, “Bpeace believes the path to peace is lined with jobs.” And that “More jobs means less violence.” Under the leadership of co-founder and CEO, Toni Maloney, Bpeace works with entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries to “scale their businesses, create significant employment for all, and expand the economic power of women." With an emphasis on advancing the role of women in business, Bpeace has reached the conflict-affected regions of Afghanistan, Rwanda and El Salvador.
Bpeace's primary donors include grassroots support members who pay dues, family foundations, and corporations such as Citibank and Microsoft. The U.S. Department of State has been a steady supporter, partially funding Bpeace's work in Afghanistan since 2004. The organization is also affiliated with Goldman-Sachs’ 10,000 Women Initiative. Bpeace has earned the GuideStar Exchange Seal, demonstrating its commitment to transparency.” “55% of the entrepreneurs who have participated with Bpeace since 2004 are still engaged with Bpeace and in business, 100% of them are generating income and 93% are self-sustaining. 54% maintained employment levels and 32% posted job growth.
The stated goal of Bpeace is “to create one million jobs across 1,000 communities. Every one of those jobs, entrepreneurs, and communities becomes a beacon of hope. In each community these businesspeople become role models and strong voices for peace.” Bpeace gives preference to female business owners, but has expanded to help promising entrepreneurs of either gender.
Bpeace’s methods are based on the concept that “The jobs that Fast Runners create have a multiplier effect – those jobs sustain thousands of families, boost local purchasing power, and in turn, strengthen other local businesses. This cycle of employment sets a once troubled community on the path to prosperity and peace.”
- "Business is a Common Language"
- Forbes agrees, "Business is a common language that not only transcends cultures, but can also break down the isolation of conflict-affected communities.Stronger businesses and innovation are powerful drivers for a country’s peaceful future...Bpeace is ambitious — intent on creating one million jobs across 1,000 conflict-affected communities."
- “Exporting Soft Power”
- In October 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported on Afghan Fast-Runner Zarghuna’s experiences while in the U.S. on BART. She was mentored at Bumble and Bumble on the intricacies of hair-styling.Bpeace board member, Laurie Chock said,"In Zarghuna, we saw the potential for growth...The fact that she does what she does, with the infrastructure issues and cultural restrictions, is almost magical."
- “Hands-On Skill Building”
- The New York Times says, “Bpeace has graduated 56 high-potential entrepreneurs from its hands-on, three-year mentoring and skills-building program, while 117 women have completed 10,000 Women’s management training, with the goal of reaching 300 women over five years… several indicators point to a growing number of female-led firms in Afghanistan. The international organization Peace Dividend Trust, which works with Afghan entrepreneurs to identify local market opportunities, now counts 242 women-owned companies in its national database of nearly 7,000 Afghan companies, with three to five new women-owned ventures joining its registry each month.
- “Rebuilding their Lives and World”
- For The Washington Post, photojournalist Paula Lerner states “The Afghan women I met in the Bpeace programs have, like many Afghans, witnessed decades of war and endured much tragedy in their lives. It is striking that despite all they have been through they have not been defeated by it. By building their businesses they are rebuilding their lives and their world. And in the process helping to rebuild their country as well.”
- “Women Fighting Back with Business”
- CNN reports on two Bpeace Fast Runners, in April, 2011. Shahla and Fatima of Afghanistan travelled to the U.S. to tell their stories and inspire other women to follow their courageous lead since at one time women couldn’t even attend school in Afghanistan.
- “Race to Innovation”
- In May, 2010 The Huffington Post reported on the Bpeace organized competition between entrepreneurs from Rwanda and Afghanistan, all trying to raise the most money for their business idea.
Fast Running Around the World
In the conflict-affected regions in which Bpeace operates, Bpeace selects what they call “Fast Runners,” or entrepreneurs/small business owners whose motivation and talent bring job creation and economic growth to entire communities. Bpeace states, “We significantly invest in [Fast Runners] because when successful, the employment these Fast Runners generate sparks a multiplier effect that sustains thousands of families and boosts local purchasing power, which in turn lifts other businesses, creates even more employment, opens new markets and accelerates the community up the path to prosperity and peace.” Through a three-year mentoring program, experts are paired with a Fast Runner in the same business in order to advance the Fast Runner's productivity and achievement.
- Dosti Soccer Balls: a Bpeace supported joint-venture started by and employing women who hand-stitch soccer balls. These women work from their homes and support their families. The balls are marketed by Bpeace in the U.S. “Today, [DOSTI] collectively employs 475 Afghans…by stitching 500 soccer balls, or 1 – 2 balls per day, an Afghan woman can earn enough income from DOSTI to support a family of six for a year.”
- BART: The Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip, sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, brought Afghan Fast Runners to the United States in June 2005, October 2008, October 2010 and October 2011 to learn the tricks of their respective trades. Furniture makers, IT entrepreneurs, beauty salon owners, construction contractors and salt processors are a few examples of Afghan entrepreneurs who have traveled to the U.S.
El Salvador: the most recent country in the Bpeace program. Janis Grover and Laura Rotter were Bpeace’s First Traveling Mentors to El Salvador. They worked to improve productivity at a bakery, La Canasta, in 2011.
Rwanda: Examples of businesses in Rwanda that have been mentored through Bpeace include the country's first ice cream producer and shop, a hotel, funeral home, and landscaping business. In the Spring of 2011 Rwandan Fast Runners came to the U.S. on a BART.
- Any business professional, current or retired, may join Bpeace as a member. Membership consists of a minimum $10, tax deductible, monthly dues and donations are also accepted at bpeace.org.
- Bpeace volunteers are members. Volunteers share business expertise and talents with Fast Runners, guide and host Fast Runners when they travel to the United States, help as language translators etc. Most also help via Skype and the internet, known as virtual volunteering.
- “More than just people with big hearts…” Jayne Cravens shares her personal experience as a Bpeace volunteer. “the volunteers are professionals with particular real-life business skills -- in running a construction company or a cleaning company, in operating a funeral home, in tool making out of scrap metal, in franchising, in operating a gas station and convenience store, and on and on. 75% of the BPEACE volunteers never travel to Afghanistan and Rwanda; the volunteering is done through the Internet... These volunteers develop relationships, in many cases friendships, with the entrepreneurs they assist, and become aware of the realities faced by people in post-conflict countries."
- "GuideStar Exchange Reports for Business Council For Peace, Inc". .guidestar.org. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Our Impact Produces a Multiplier Effect". Bpeace. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Business Council For Peace, Inc. - Volunteer & donor opportunities, services, mission, contact information and reviews on GreatNonprofits". Greatnonprofits.org. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Building Peace by Supporting Small Businesses". Bpeace. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- McPherson, Susan (2011-12-14). "How Business Can Make A Difference For Women In Conflict-Stricken Countries -Forbes.com". Online.forbes.com. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- Gardner, Ralph (2011-10-20). "Blow-Dry Diplomacy - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Women Help Each Other Start Businesses in Afghanistan". The New York Times. 2011-01-28.
- "The Women of Kabul". washingtonpost.com. 2012-04-15. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Video - Breaking News Videos from". CNN.com. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- Liepmann, Erica (2010-05-14). "Bpeace 'Race To Innovation' Supports Social Entrepreneurs In Rwanda And Afghanistan". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Fast Runners Create Jobs and Create Peace". Bpeace. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "The DOSTI soccer ball story | Bpeace Official Blog". Blog.bpeace.org. 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "And the VERA goes to… | Bpeace Official Blog". Blog.bpeace.org. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "Rwandan businesswomen soak up Pennsylvania | Bpeace Official Blog". Blog.bpeace.org. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "Use Your Business Skills to Build Peace". Bpeace. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- [http://www.coyotecommunications.com/development/bpeace.html) See also virtual volunteering.