The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to empower women worldwide economically, socially and politically. Currently, we are achieving this mission through our PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program, which provides long-term business training to women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda.
The program began when a member of the US-Women’s Afghan Council recommended Terry Neese, founder & CEO of the Institute, to former first lady Laura Bush as the No. 1 woman in the U.S. who could design and implement a meaningful and successful mentorship program for Afghan women. Since then, our program has expanded to include women entrepreneurs from Rwanda, and including this year’s students, we have trained more than 100 women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. This year’s program brings 14 Afghan and 16 Rwandan students to the United States in August.
There are four phases: In-Country Education, Leadership Development, International Women’s Economic Summit and Pay It Forward. A major element of our program is the mentorship phase, where our students live and work with an American woman business owner for five days, allowing our students to take the knowledge they have learned and apply it to real-life scenarios. Despite today’s economy, women business owners all over the United States have volunteered their time and resources as mentors for this year’s program.
This year's Summit brings over 50 speakers -- including Ambassador Karen Hughes, Ambassador Steve Steiner from the U.S. State Department, Newsweek journalist Eleanor Clift, U.S.-Afghan Women's Council Vice Chair, Phyllis Magrab, and many, many more.
PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS has proven very successful. For one example, one of our 2007 Afghan graduates, has not only expanded her business (added 53 employees) and increased her revenues (by 17%), but she is also running for Parliament in Afghanistan.