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Inspiring stories of Afghanistan and Rwanda business women participating in the IEEW PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® PROGRAM. It chronicles their struggles and challenges of living in a developing country and owning a business as a woman.

Inspiring stories of Afghanistan and Rwanda business women participating in the IEEW PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® PROGRAM. It chronicles their struggles and challenges of living in a developing country and owning a business as a woman.
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Inspiring stories of Afghanistan and Rwanda business women participating in the IEEW PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® PROGRAM. It chronicles their struggles and challenges of living in a developing country and owning a business as a woman.








Ep. 25-Monica Smiley: Never Stop Being Inspired

As editor and publisher of Enterprising Women Magazine, Monica Smiley knows the challenges women face in business. Yet what she’s seen here in the U.S. pales to the experiences of female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. Their resilience and ability to succeed, however, leaves her continually inspired. Through her work with the Peace Through Business program, she’s helped mentor women through the unique challenges they face in their home country. In Afghanistan, women must still deal...


Ep.24-Karel Ford: The Role of Mentors

The Peace Through Business program provides women from Rwanda and Afghanistan with the essential skills they need to unleash their entrepreneurial potential. Karel Ford directs the mentorship side with the initiative, pairing up U.S.-based business leaders with women who are launching and building businesses, often in challenging and sometimes dangerous, circumstances. Ford describes how the women who enter the program thrive, building stronger partnerships with their American counterparts...


Ep. 23-Karel Ford: My Role in IEEW

Karel Ford wants to see women worldwide have the freedom and skills to start their own businesses. This is why she heads the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, where she and her team mentor women in Rwanda and Afghanistan giving them valuable entrepreneurship skills to help them find success in their home country. Women in the program learn critical skills to launch their business, nurture its growth, and work within their political systems to achieve lasting change. Ford...


Ep. 22-Princesse Umutesiwase: Embrace the Challenges you Faced and Use them as Fuel for your Journey

Princesses Umuntesiwase always got pushack from her brothers about how much she would be able to accomplish as a girl. Proving them wrong became paramount, and she worked hard through school to earn a scholarship at a university in Nairobi, then landing a job at the central bank of Rwanda. Yet the tug was strong for another achievement — owning her own business. With Legacy Brands, she has created a business with a vast variety of services, everything from branding and publishing to event...


Ep 21-Chandelle Mutezintare: As a Woman Believe You Have the Power to Create and Succeed in Whatever You Do

For Chandelle Mutezintare, it wasn’t always clear how she would break out of the traditional gender roles and one day own a business. With a young child and husband, she began going to school at night even though it at first caused friction at home. She was also met with unapproving professors who thought business wasn’t the place for her. She pushed through, gaining her husband’s support and getting a job at an internet service provider. Over time, Mutezintare found herself not getting the...


Ep. 20-Diane Murekatete: When We Have the Courage to Pursue all our Dreams, They Will Come True

Diane Murkatete discovered the key to her success through trial and error. Her family was always focused on agriculture, and after a career in government service she and her husband decided to give farming a go. They purchased a large plot of land, hopeful to build a future for their four kids and to try something new after 15 years as a tax auditor.. When harvesting sweet potatoes she grew, it turned out they weren’t great for eating but made exceptional bread and biscuits. Through her...


Ep. 19-Asterie Hitimana: You are your own Limit. Live Each Day with Passion

Like many families during the Rwandan genocide Asterie “Asty” Hitimana’s fleed to escape the violence, returning later to try and rebuild their lives and country. Growing up, Hitimana hada passion for fashion and design, dressing up dolls and helping her mom as she made clothing for the family of 12 children. Hitimana has taken that childhood passion and succeeded at turning it into a business. Her store, Twinkle by Asty, creates clothing for clients not only in Rwanda, but the U.S. and...


Ep. 18-Sona Mahmody: Being an Entrepreneur is Seeing Opportunities Where Others Don't

Being a businesswoman in Afghanistan isn’t easy, according to Sona Mahmody. She’s the owner of Rumi Trading LLC, a business that helps Afghan women export dried fruit, saffron, and nuts to eastern markets, with a goal of eventually expanding to the U.S. and Europe. The aim of her business is to promote the Afghan agricultural sector and its products, which has often been overlooked and had to break through in a difficult market. Her products come about from a combination of her own efforts...


Ep. 17-Aisha Haguma: Focus on Your Dream

Growing up, Aisha Haguma had to do a lot of fending for herself. She lost her parents in the Rwanda genocide, and lived with her aunt and extended family. Yet that experience gave her the strength and courage to be independent. She’s grown into an entrepreneur as the owner of a supermarket, Alimentation Le Panier. The spark for beginning her own journey to entrepreneurship was trips to Dubai, where she was enamored with the clothing and began to sell items that she purchased on the journey...


Ep.16-Barbara Umuhoza: Pastor and Successful Communications Business Owner

Deep and meaningful conversation is at the core of what Barbara Umuhoza believes can connect and heal others. This vision drove her as a pastor and has been continued with her as the business owner of Eclat Communications. With her pastoral background, integrity is essential to how she runs this firm, which is dedicated to helping with their marketing and promotional strategy. She’s particularly dedicated to helping her country become a regional conference hub for east Africa. Her company...


Ep.15-Angel Mutoni: Music Can Set You Free

As a child, Angel Mutoni admired her father’s musical talents. It was one of many sources of connection she clung to in her childhood as she coped with the loss of her mother. Mutoni’s father released an album and did a number of performances during those years, while also giving the family a rich experience of living abroad and a stint as a diplomat in Canada. Even with his encouragement, it would be a while before Mutoni would embrace her own talents and become an artist in her own right....


Ep. 14-Freshta Sarwaree: Always try to Achieve your Goals

Freshta Sarwaree has an immense passion to build economic security and independence for women in Afghanistan. She does this through her business and school, building a support network for the women in her community.. Sarwaree’s company, Green Choice, provides processed food, fruit, and spices for her customers. She has an all-women team, part of her desire to build women's independence and sense of purpose in the workforce. Her life experience is a true asset to her community. She lived...


Ep. 13-Frida Kansime: Your Dreams Become a Reality with Determination and Hard Work

Frida Kansime was only three years old when her family was forced to flee due to the Rwandan genocide. When her family returned, she learned she had lost her grandmother and other members of her family. With her close family and support system, she was able to build a life through achievement at university, culminating with an MBA. After spending time in the workforce, she reached a point where she grew tired of her job and knew it was time for a new opportunity. At only 28 years old, she...


Ep.12-Nazila Kakar: Be Independent, Focus on your Vision and Fight for It

Nazila Kakar is realizing the dream of being a woman business owner in Afghanistan. She’s tapped into the agricultural resources of the country to build a food company, producing yogurt, cheese, butter, james, and pickles. Her mom made jams and pickles when she was young, and it’s been satisfying to transform that into a sustainable business. Like many women business owners in Afghanistan, she faces challenges acquiring credit and battling bias against women in the workforce. She’s sought...


Ep. 11-Yvette Muhayemariya: Adversity is the test of strong women

Yvette Muhayemariya is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, losing many members of her family. As time went on, she found a sense of purpose in creating her own identity and owning her future by starting her own business. It grew out of struggle she experienced when building her home, realizing a need for businesses that sold construction materials. While her business has grown, it’s had a set of challenges such as ensuring suppliers deliver on time and taking a chance on customers by...


Ep.10-Agnes Mukamushinja: As an Entrepreneur you Fail When You Choose to Give Up

Agnes Muhanus owns Nova Coffee, which is grown in the volcanic regions of Rwanda. As a mom to four children, she is an example to her family about how a woman can build a successful business and make her own path. Her husband offers advice on agriculture, and is sometimes needed for obtaining credit due to existing cultural attitudes about lending solely to women. Yet the business is going strong, selling coffee to European, Asian, and American markets. The coffee off season doesn’t stop...


Ep.9-Priscilla Umutashya Ruzibuka: Building a Children's Fashion Brand in Rwanda

From an early age Umutasha Ruzibuka developed an eye for clothing and fashion from a family housemaid in Rwanda. As a little girl she was able to model to experience how clothing can powerfully shape how one feels. This experience stuck with her, and she would develop a passion for clothing and helping other women by founding Ki-pepeo Kids Clothing, a children’s apparel store with a focus on fashionable options for kids and empowering female employees to build greater autonomy with their...


Ep. 8-Rachel Kakize: Saving lives keeps me motivated

Rachel Kakize saw a problem that needed to be fixed. After high school she started working in the medical field and noticed a regular lack of essential supplies available. She was inspired to take action by forming her own medical supply company, PrimeMad Technologies LTD. As a Rwanda businesswoman, she speaks about the hope she has for her country and the role she is playing in helping to rebuild the nation's structure after the horrors of the genocide. As a businesswoman, she is playing a...


Ep. 2-Nan McKay: My Life-Changing Experience

When attending the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS PROGRAM® training sponsored by the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, podcast host Nan McKay intended to record an episode with the organization’s founder and then return back to her regular schedule with the Trailblazers Impact podcast. Instead she met so many inspiring women who had overcome life-shattering tragedy, she was compelled to tell their stories. The business women are connected with a mentor who equips them with leadership and...


Ep. 3-Judith Mutamba: Medals for Hand-to-Hand Combat

Judith Mutamba recalls at a very early age losing her father and four siblings due to the uprising in Rwanda. She wanted to be in Rwanda and wanted Rwanda to be free, so at a young age she was one of the first to to join the fighting. She heard that if you got training, the instructor would make you his wife. They thought she had served in the military in Uganda, but instead she trained herself and “added some age” to her 14 years so she would be accepted. It was guerilla fighting with...