Bpeace, Non-profit, Aids Rwanda Recovery

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[Global News: A Nation’s Recovery]

Bpeace, a non-profit organization is doing important work on behalf of countries like Rwanda and others like it, which have been ravaged by war.

Recently, Bpeace hosted a fundraising event at the Mansion on 28th Street, where International singing sensation, Francis Jocky performed to support their efforts in countries transfigured by war.

“When an organization like Bpeace calls me and asks if I can help, I’m always glad to do it,” said Jocky.

Bpeace’s strategy and priority is to increase capital in the health and growth of businesses which focus on the economic enhancement of women seeking self-reliance and improvement to their communities.   

“The fact that we were able to generate a 30% increase in donations in a year when Wall Street and financial companies are cutting jobs, is a testament to the steadfastness of our supporters who know us and bring in new friends as well. We make a compelling case for female entrepreneurship in war-torn countries,” said Toni Maloney, Bpeace co-founder and Chair of its Governing Board. “We have the belief that if people have jobs, then there would be less a chance of them turning to violence. And if people have jobs, then they can educate their children and have hope in their communities for a more peaceful future.”

One of those companies, which partnered with Bpeace, is Indego Africa.

“We work with different cooperatives for women of Rwanda to bring their handicraft back to the U.S., and then sell them to 20 different retail stores across the country - including the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Art Institute of Chicago and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Houston. And then we give 100% of the profit back to the women for the training programs that we developed for long term skills,” said Benjamin D. Stone, Senior Vice President & General Counsel. “I run it full time with my friend, Matt Mitro,” who is President and Chairman of the Board. “It was founded November 2006 - and we were actually, both former corporate lawyers, who I guess, saw the light.”

Rwanda lost nearly one million people in 1994 during the climax of the war there. Innocent and defenseless people died. Women were raped as a tool of war. Psychological and social turmoil are lasting legacies. Non-profit organizations, like Bpeace and their umbrella of businesses, play a crucial part in helping countries like Rwanda recover.

“What we do when we enter these countries, we look for women entrepreneurs that we call fast runners,” said Maloney. “Fast Runners are the business-women who are in the best position to rapidly grow their businesses and jobs for others. We feel that if we can find these women and give them acceleration courses, coaching, training and access to capital, then they would be able to grow at a faster rate than on their own. So we’ve been successful across a whole range of businesses - freight-forward, tourism and hospitality and manufacturing. But the obstacles, in terms of entrepreneurs are the cultural issues.”

Some light has started shining on Rwanda; yet the shadow of its painful past can not be camouflaged.

“Rape was used as a tool of the genocide in 1994,” said intern, Claire Barbie of Foundation Rwanda, a non-profit organization that provides support for women raped during the genocide. “It’s a product of approximately 20,000 children who have been born. They’re about 14 years now. Their mothers are getting psychological and community support; and their children are able to go to school.”

Many of the mothers have contracted the HIV/AIDS virus from rapes.  Some were ostracized by their communities and their family; stigmatized and incapable of providing the $350 annual fee for their children’s education.

“After the war, the women were the only ones left standing,” said Maloney, co-founder of B-Peace. “One of the things this country can export is business expertise and that’s what we’re trying to do, transfer that business knowledge across borders.


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