Americans Help Create Jobs and Economic Expansion in War-Torn Countries

Jun 03, 2010, 10:00 ET from Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women

AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, Afghan Ambassador to address women from Afghanistan and Rwanda

DALLAS, June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American female business owners are working with Afghan and Rwandan women this June to press forward to a new era of global peace through economic expansion and empowerment.

Twenty-four female business owners from Afghanistan and Rwanda will undergo business, leadership and public policy training June 4 – 24 through the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program. Serial entrepreneur Terry Neese founded the program through her non-profit, the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women.  

Afghan student Sakina Ibrahimi, 35, is a businesswoman and women's rights activist. She says she hopes her U.S. training will empower her to not only expand her shoe factory into more provinces, but also give her a stronger voice in the public policy arena. Ibrahimi has organized public demonstrations against unjust laws toward women.

"In the past, women haven't had any impact on public policy or social activity," Ibrahimi said. "But after having this protest, I was awed. I realized I can be independent and can have everything men have. Now, we must change the minds of men."

Rwandan businesswoman Beltrida Uwamwezi, who owns a high school in Rwanda, said that people doubted her ability as a woman to run a business. But her zeal to work and serve her community proved otherwise.

"To me, this was great achievement in life, and as a woman I felt big inside myself, feeling that with determination I can always make it," Uwamwezi said.

PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS has three U.S. components: Leadership Development, an International Women's Economic Summit and Mentorship. The Summit, hosted in Dallas, Texas, at the AT&T Center for Learning, features speakers such as AT&T and Office Depot female executives, as well as Afghan and Rwandan government officials.

The graduation ceremony on June 22 will feature the Ambassadors from Afghanistan and Rwanda, as well as AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson.

Neese, a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, says PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS is working.

"Our students are returning to their countries to create more jobs and economic opportunities in Afghanistan and Rwanda," she said. "Their courageous work serves as a reminder to American women entrepreneurs that you really can do anything if you set your mind to it."

CONTACT: Becca Colbaugh of Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, +1-918-693-1570,

SOURCE Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women