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APPRENTICE TALENT CONTEST ANNOUNCED
FOR AFGHAN BUSINESSWOMEN

Successful nominees will work on-the-job at American firms in 2008

 

  

December 5, 2006, Kabul, Afghanistan and New York, NY  --  The Business Council for Peace (Bpeace) today announced a nationwide Afghanistan talent competition in search of Afghan businesswomen in non-traditional industries to participate in on-the-job training in U.S.  “The Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip” is an unprecedented opportunity for Afghan businesswomen to gain practical experience in the U.S. in their chosen industries.  Bpeace will bring 12 Afghan women entrepreneurs working in non-traditional and non-handicraft industries to the US in 2008 for three-week internships and apprenticeships with different firms.

The Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip to the U.S. will be the highlight of a Bpeace three-year program commencing April 2007 where successful American businesspeople will train Afghan entrepreneurs in both Afghanistan and Dubai; assess their progress; distance mentor them by email and phone; provide access to financing and, in some cases, to international markets.  After 18 months in the Bpeace program and receiving training and mentoring to strengthen their businesses, as well as improve their English and computer skills, the qualifying Afghan businesswomen will make the trip to the US in 2008.


 “Afghan women can assume a greater role in emerging industries that will help Afghanistan rebuild and become less reliant on imports,” said Toni Maloney, a volunteer with Bpeace, and the Chair of its Governing Board. “The courage of Afghan women is remarkable. Their tenacity combined with the on-the-job training of the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip to the U.S. will be a powerful accelerator for Afghanistan’s reconstruction.” 

None of the finalists will receive any money and will be expected to continue to operate their businesses while participating in the program.  They will, however, have their travel expenses paid to Kabul, Dubai and the U.S. 

Bpeace currently has a volunteer team on its way to Kabul for the third time this year.  The Bpeace business volunteers are training and consulting with the current 20 Afghan businesswomen in its program. 

The Nomination Process

To identify the best female entrepreneurs throughout Afghanistan, the Business Council for Peace is casting a wide net in Afghanistan among community and business leaders, government agencies, business associations and non-profit organizations.

Applications are available by emailing [email protected] and must be submitted online by January 15, 2007.  Nominees for the program must:

  • Be an Afghan businesswoman who is operating a non-traditional business in Afghanistan. This program is not for people engaged in handicraft.
  • Operate her business full-time.
  • Desire to create a strong business and jobs for hundreds of Afghan women and men, and provide them with good working conditions and a living wage.
  • Become a voice for peace in her community. 
  • Be literate.
  • Be willing to share financial records of her business with Bpeace so we can understand her business issues.
  • Be willing to take English and computer classes for 18 months to significantly improve those skills so she will gain more out of her apprenticeship in the U.S.
  • Want the help of a mentor to help her grow her business and be able to communicate with her mentor regularly by phone and email.
  • Has the support of her family to travel to Dubai and the U.S.

The outcomes of the three-year program and of its centerpiece, the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip, will be:

  • Economic growth with the acceleration of fledging Afghan businesses into profitable, sustainable enterprises.  The goal is to spark significant job creation and develop businesses in emerging growth industries.
  • The Afghan entrepreneurs forming themselves into their own peer or industry-specific networks to support each other’s development.
  • The entrepreneurs transforming their new found economic voices into voices for peace and democracy in their communities.
  • Long-term mutual understanding and partnerships among Americans and Afghans through this multi-phased people-to-people exchange.  

 

Partners in the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip

Bpeace is a coalition of U.S. businesspeople who volunteer to help women in regions of conflict and post-conflict build businesses.  It is partnering with Women for Afghan Women, an organization of Afghan and non-Afghan women dedicated to the empowerment of Afghan women in the U.S. and Afghanistan.  Both organizations have a demonstrated track record supporting the women of Afghanistan. 

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Citizen Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is providing $250,000 in partial funding for this program over the next two years, assuming Bpeace can match this grant through its own fundraising from Bpeace members, individual donors, foundations and corporations.

The following organizations endorse the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip:  The Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce; Afghan Women’s Business Council; Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA); The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C.

How American Businesses Can Assist

Once Bpeace identifies the non-traditional industries in which Afghan businesswomen are clustering, it will reach out to U.S. firms of all sizes in the same industries to be “host businesses.”  Bpeace will match each Afghan woman in the program with a host U.S. business where she can apprentice for several weeks.

Host businesses can be located anywhere in the continental U.S.  Potential host businesses should contact [email protected] or call 212-851-6758.


Bpeace Has an Effective History Working with Afghan Businesswomen

Bpeace recruited its original group of Afghan businesswomen in 2005 and brought 10 of them to New York for three weeks of training at the Fashion Institute of Technology and on site visits to well-known American fashion designers.  Bpeace volunteers have been providing ongoing mentoring to these Afghan Associates, and traveling to Kabul two to three times a year to deliver in-country training and on-site business consulting.  During the current December 2006 mission, they are helping some of the Afghan Associates fulfill their dream of opening their own retail store

Five of the current women in the program were recently profiled in a Washington Post multi-media presentation by award-winning photojournalist Paula Lerner.  The url is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/world/interactives/afghanistanwomen/index.html

 

About Bpeace

Bpeace has more than 200 Bpeace volunteer business people who apply their talents, time and money to help women in war-torn regions build sustainable businesses through distance mentoring, on-the-ground training, providing access to international best business practices, financing and international markets.  Bpeace members—all volunteers— believe that entrepreneurship creates a foundation for creating hope and stability.  Bpeace has men and women business members throughout 23 states in the US, and in Canada, UK, Austria and Australia.

In conflict or post-conflict regions, Bpeace selects and assists the businesswomen most likely to succeed. These are women who demonstrate high potential by already operating businesses--often against all odds, and sometimes against cultural norms.  Bpeace calls these emerging entrepreneurs Fast Runners because they are in the best position to create jobs for others, and to ultimately use their strong economic voices to work for peace in their communities.

For more information:

Email:  [email protected]

Bpeace Web site:  www.bpeace.org

Blog of the current Bpeace mission in Kabul:  www.bpeaceinafghanistan6.blogspot.com

 

Contact:

New York: 

Marla Gitterman

212-851-6758  [email protected]

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