Toni Maloney is the Founder and CEO of Bpeace which is a not-for-profit organization that works with budding and talented entrepreneurs. They bring together a group of entrepreneurs from countries like US, UK, Hong Kong etc. who mentor and help high-potential entrepreneurs in war-afflicted regions of the world. Their belief lies in the fact that creating more jobs by setting up successful businesses leads to peace and progress. They are currently active in Afghaistan, Rwanda and El Salvador. They have been working with Afghanistan's entrepreneurs since 2004.
Their method of selecting high-potential entrepreneurs is pretty rigorous. Out of the hundreds of entrepreneurs that applied in Afghanistan, they only shortlisted 60. Some of the criteria used were that they must be business owners who have been in business since at least a year. They must share their vision of empowerment and peace through the path of entrepreneurship. They also must believe in women’s empowerment. In fact, at Bpeace, they are biased towards women entrepreneurs because they believe that bettering the status of women in Afghanistan is crucial for the region’s peace and upliftment. They also ensure that the male entrepreneurs that they select also feel similarly about women empowerment. It could be either by employing women or by providing good and services that cater to women, but they must be open to the idea.
Bpeace is committed to a lifelong relationship with their fast runner entrepreneurs. Initially the entrepreneurs get into a 3-year relationship with them. This is done because that can ensure guidance over many business cycles that is needed to expand the business as well as generate employment for others. The guidance offered includes help with strengthening finances, business processes, quality of products and services, employee and customer-related services, and industry-specific expert inputs. The examples of this may be something like an Afghan lady entrepreneur who is in the food processing business comparing notes with a US entrepreneur in the same business. She get tips about how to increase the quality of her offering, how to work more efficiently, better usage of her financial resources and so on and so forth. Who knows she might get herself a product that might be good enough for the global market. This is what Bpeace aims to do on the ground.
See the entire video to hear about Dr. Reshad, one of the bright front runners that they have supported. He has set up a school and university in Northern Afghanistan.
For all my posts on Afghanistan, see my webtv.