Monday, August 17, 2009

Afghanistan and Rwanda Women Business Owners

I had the pleasure of working with the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women in Dallas Texas last week in their Peace Through Business program. Peace through Business® trains women entrepreneurs in war torn countries in basic business practices, then goes a step further by providing mentorship with American women business owners. These courageous women spend 3 weeks in class learning business basics through a entrepreneurial University, then take that information and transfers it into ‘real’ life through mentorship.

After training in their respective countries, 14 women from Afghanistan and 15 women from Rwanda attended a 10-day training at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, TX. Tomorrow they leave Texas to go to places throughout the country to be matched with a woman business owner who has a similar business and will mentor them.

Terry Neese is the President and Founder of IEEW. She is a former national president of NAWBO and the co-founder of WIPP.

I did a day of marketing training with the women, including information on branding, media, networking and message development. I want to introduce you to the women below. (The descriptions are very short because I also used these descriptions in my Twitter account. You can follow me @maryschnack. I also have an account @upfromthedust).

Sarah Mukandutiye from Rwanda has dairy and chicken farm and three greenhouses with tomatoes. Sells 1,000 eggs and 600 liters of milk a day

Khalida Dunya of Afghanistan gives internally displaced people work making soccer and volleyballs--by hand! Wants to start exporting.

Frozan Raufi of Afghanistan owns Family Med Clinic. Needs EKG & digital blood press machines. & grants to treat patients at only $2/person.

Mariam Yousufi started Mariama Education and Culture Assoc in Kabul, a hand craft biz and has trained almost 400 women in tailoring and literacy.

Shakila Rozbeh of Afghanistan provides raw materials to women handcrafters and employs 35 crafters.

Cathy Bitwayiki is an organic farmer in Rwanda. Her goals are to learn how to process and export locally grown fruits and vegetables and to get her company’s products into the organic market.

Immy Kamarade’s company in Kigale, Rwanda distributes petroleum products, cement and coffee. She joined neighbor famers together to sell bigger coffee orders & make a market for all.

Farghana Alimy, 20, only female shop owner in 1 of biggest markets. Also serves as the manager of the Trader Woman’s Association in Kabul.

Francoise Uwamwezi carries on her family business called African Wood Enterprises. The company creates furniture for the home, the office, floor parquets, partitions and ceilings.

“Women in Afghanistan are confined for different reasons…the main reason is lack of ownership. Men have it and women don’t,” said Razia Arefi. “I want to open my own shop and achieve this goal of [ownership] and beat these difficulties.”

Marlene Nyirubutama opened first ice cream shop in Rwanda. She imports ice creams from South Africa and Kenya and now wants to make it herself. She’s in Orange County now studying with a mentor.

Farzana Ebrahimi founded the Kandahar Health and Development Organization (KHDO) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. KDHO specializes in training women in the fields of sewing, embroidering, and knitting. KDHO specializes in training women in the fields of sewing, embroidering, and knitting in hopes that it will help propel them into a successful career down the road.

Annette Karenzi
owns a holistic, “ladies only” fitness center in Kigale. When her business grows, she plans to set up a complete executive spa.

Roqia Sajjadi, who spent the majority of her childhood and adolescence in Iran during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, has started her own financial consulting services company and is excelling to new heights with it.

Keza Kamwenub is President of IATA Travel Agencies in Kigali, Rwanda. Anyone want to see the gorillas? We edited her brochure!

Deborah Kagwisagye owns and operates Generations Impact, where she trains orphans and former sex workers to be job creators through handcrafting jewelry and wall hangings. She gave me the purse made by orphans—see the photos on my Facebook page at

Andeisha Farid spent her childhood living in refugee camps in countries neighboring Afghanistan. It was living through this experience that inspired her to get involved with helping children, starting a new non profit, the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO). AFCECO runs 7 orphanages in Afghanistan, 2 orphanages in Pakistan, a girl’s school, and several vocational training centers around the country.

Asma Ataie a 23 year old businesswoman from Kabul, started a small business development firm, which provides BDS (Business Development Services) to growing and budding businesses.

Joan Twagira, with the help of the Oxford University Press, owns Kigali Bookstore-Book Distributors. Her core business includes searching for authors to write books for academic needs and schools, as well as selling English books to the general public.

Lydie Hakizimana owns a book store that sells both new and used books in Kigale. Her overall goal is to develop libraries in schools and hospitals where children would have access to books for free.

Other Rwanda women businessowners. Jane Natukunda owns a tea business. Josephine Mbabzi and Joy Kansangire own promotions businesses. Saudah Nalule owns a beauty shop.

Go to for more information, and view photos at and at my Facebook account,


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