Tuesday, December 05, 2006
BART Looks for the Next Group of Bpeace Associates
One of the scheduled items that Kate, Pam and Steve missed while marooned in Dubai, was the Tuesday, December 5th press conference in Kabul announcing the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip. Not to worry, Toni asked Laila, our program manager in Kabul, to go ahead with the press conference and to ask a few of the Bpeace Associates to join her.
Amid TV cameras and tape recorders for the radio stations, Laila joined by Kamela and Mahbooba 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 (BART) is an unprecedented opportunity for Afghan businesswomen to gain practical experience in the U.S. in their chosen industries. This talent search will result in Bpeace recruiting its second group of Bpeace Afghan Associates, and we will bring 12 of them to the US in 2008 for three-week internships and apprenticeships with different U.S. firms.
While it would have been great had Kate, Pam and Steve been there, seeing the photos of a confident Laila and team making the announcement was quite emotional for some Bpeacers viewing from stateside. Having our first group of Afghan Associates, announcing the search for the second group of Associates…well…that’s pretty damn amazing.
Those blog readers who know Bpeace well, know that the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip to the U.S. will be the highlight of a three-year program for this next group of Associates. As we have done before, Bpeace volunteers will train these entrepreneurs in 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.
Our BART Partners
Once again, Bpeace 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.
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. (Donate here)
There is no question it is going to be challenging locating businesswomen across Afghanistan in non-traditional industries (no sewing, rugs, jewelry or handicraft). We are working with many organizations to cast a wide net among their contacts to locate these businesswomen, including: 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 the Afghan businesswomen are clustering, we will reach out to U.S. firms of all sizes in the same industries to be “host businesses.” Bpeace will match each of the new Associates 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 us at Apprentice@bpeace.org or call 212-851-6758.