Thursday, February 01, 2007


There's more to come, but...

It's Thursday. Most of the team is either home or on their way.

Lee and Anne are still in Rwanda and have an active schedule of circling back around to most of the associates.

There is more blog to post, so please come back in a day or two.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Tuesday 30th: Dreams do come true

Anne, Lee, Stephanie, Susan met with Sylvie at her amusement park. The facility, which was still under construction when we last visited is complete and includes a hall, restaurant, fountains, magnificent formal gardens, children rides, bar, and gift shop. Still in her plans is a hotel and children center for babysitting.

Sylvie’s business is increasing in bookings for conferences and parties. Her branding, Bambino Super City, is not in line with this target audience, but rather with her original idea of serving as an amusement park. Anne gave her tactical advice on increasing her customer base, branding, PR and advertising, which we are sure we will be busy helping her implement on our return. The staff and customer service training we are developing will be of value for her as well as all of our associates. The issue is that they need it now; so we will implement a plan to close the gap until the next mission.

We also discussed the potential for cross marketing and introducing products made by other associates in her gift shop. She especially liked the idea of promoting entertainment and themed evenings, such as Country Music Night (big in Rwanda), Blues Night (yes they love B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters), Reggae (Bob Marley is a God here) and of course Inozzi Dancers and Drumming (hope to have some at our debrief meeting in NYC).

Hospitality - Rwanda Associate Style
We also toured the kitchen, where luncheon preparations were in progress. Fresh vegetables are grown on the premises and everything we sampled tasted great.

Later in the day, the mission team and most of our associates enjoyed a banquet at the terrace restaurant. During our meal, we all conveyed our gratitude and thoughts on the work Bpeace is doing in Rwanda. Sylvie remarked on how we have all bonded as a team. Leiny noted that Bpeace was not about handing out money but importantly knowledge. Speciose David announced he will be joining the Rwanda team, a most welcomed addition.

More of the team head home
Some last minute shopping and packing and we all rushed off to the airport where we were greeted by Languida, Peggy, Pierrette and Monique who came to see Marla, Barbara, Sabra and Stephanie off. We have had a successful mission but it’s not over yet. Lee and Anne are staying until Saturday and will be continuing consult with our associates.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Sunday, Jan 29: The Day Started with Party Time

Team Speciose: Lee, Anne, Speciose, Stephanie.

Barbara and the orphans.

Demonstration with samples donated by SoftSheen Carson in the US.

A Figi manicure with nailpolish donated by Essie in the US.

Anne, Lee, Stephanie and Susan went into town this morning to meet with Speciose at her flower and party rental shop. Her accountant, Gakuba Amuza, was also present. Colorful fresh cut flowers, that she sells and uses for arrangements, lined the front of her shop.

Since our last mission her business has increased, but she still needs to secure a loan to purchase a truck for deliveries and a larger tent. Owning a truck would substantially reduce the high cost of deliveries and a larger tent would enable her to accommodate requests from potential customers. We are hoping that Bpeace’s new relationship with Fina Bank will enable Speciose to secure a loan to keep her business growing.

The team discussed her current accounts, which includes supplying flowers to the Supreme Court, and how to expand her party rental business through networking and marketing. Speciose was happy to hear that Blanche Weingarten of Party Time, Academy Chair Rental Company in New York (and a pioneer in women owning businesses), will be helping to advise her on how to grow a profitable party rental business.

Speciose’s, partner Alphonsine Muteteri is in New York, as her husband, H.E. Mr. Joseph Nsengimana, was appointed Rwandan Ambassador to the UN. We will be connecting with Alphonsine upon our return.

Speciose sends her love to Loretta, Julia, Manny who were on the last mission.

Jeanne-supporting orphans through education and business
Meanwhile, Marla and Barbara accompanied by Barbara’s cousin David, visited Jeanne and her business plan consultant. They reviewed plans for her beauty school which will be located next door to her salon. It is Jeanne’s plan to focus on teaching orphans for free to be beauty operators during the first year of operation. Then in succeeding years, in addition to orphans, she would like to open up enrollment to paying students. Barbara brought US design information on beauty schools to share with Jeanne and discussed the practice of offering reduced rates to clients when beauty school students provide services.

David Ross of Orphans of Rwanda is researching equipment for Jeanne’s bakery and working out financial arrangements for their partnership. Jean was very excited to meet “cousin” David who is here from Tanzania, where he was climbed Kilimanjaro. His background includes working in Russia developing an Internet cafe and we are hoping he will help Anne and Golde mentor Nadia, by providing technical expertise for the start up of her internet café.

Barbara and ‘cousin’ David (actually her brother-in-law’s brother) visited Orphans of Rwanda and presented them with a generous check from Barbara’s sister. They were joyously welcomed and extremely appreciative of the donation.

Great Connections
The team joined Chris Lundh, CEO of Terraces for lunch— and discussed ways Terracom (the supplier of telephone and Internet service to Rwanda) can partner and support our associates in Rwanda. Anne pulled out our wish list which included supplying free laptops, Internet access and training for our associates, as well as setting up Nadia’s Internet café. Stay tuned as it looks like we have a commitment from Terracom to supply the aforementioned! We will be speaking with Chris next week to develop next steps and a plan to proceed.

Marla and Anne with Brian J. George, US Affairs Officer, discussed the possibility of including our Rwandan associates for consideration of available grants in neighboring countries, which match our mission. Seems Rwanda is not on the radar screen but with the recent acceptance into the East African block, things may change.

Head to Toe--SoftSheen Carson and Essie Nail Polish Product Demo
Lee, Stephanie, Barbara, Marla and Anne went to Jeanne’s salon where we met Brigitte and Harriette to try out SoftSheen Carson products, one of the most popular brands in Rwanda. The results were quite impressive and it is the hope of our salon owner associates that with the help of Bpeace, the products will become more readily available in Rwanda.

Marla took the opportunity to get a pedicure, complete with geranium oil foot massage, while Susan had her nails done with Essie Nail Polish in Fiji (donated by the Essie company in the US). The manicurist loved the quality and Susan loved the results. Nail polish is another product that’s hard to come by on any consistent or cost efficient manner. Rwanda is a wide open for market expansion of quality brands. The demand is certainly here.

Sabra makes the case
Sabra accompanied Pascasie to meetings at the Brewery Distributor and Fina Bank, to assist her in securing the retention of her brewery distributorship and funding. Sabra made the case by emphasizing Pascasie’s strategy for growth in correlation with that of the brewery’s plan for expansion. Looks like another home run for our associate.

In the afternoon, Sabra held financial counsel once again—this time for Esther who is building a daycare center, Speciose and Languida.

David treated us to a lively dinner at Legends, a new art gallery/restaurant which has great views overlooking the city. Dinner was delicious; we had chicken—something that hasn’t been readily available. Thank you, David. We each stated one word that embodied our feelings about this mission, as Marla, Sabra and Stephanie will be heading back home tomorrow. “Productive, Enlightening, Powerful, Awesome, Fun, Transforming and Hopewell,” come to the February 28th (place TBD) Rwanda Mission Debrief in New York to find out who and what’s behind our “one words” and learn more about our progress.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


January 27, Saturday (Ku wa gatandatu)

Gorilla, photographed by Barbara.

A warm welcome by Symphrose.

Traditional huts at Symphrose's BBQ restaurant.

Sabra and Lee being served breakfast in a staged photograph for Symprose's
hotel website and marketing materials.

Day is almost done.

Bpeace staff Richard, Marla and Susan laying down on the job.

While Stephanie and Barbara broke away from the pack for an incredible day of gorilla trekking in the north, the rest of the team journeyed southward to Butare where we were amazed and impressed with the progress Symphrose has made on her hotel. The conference center, hotel, restaurants and surrounding gardens are nearly complete. The hotel offers a serene, lush setting which we enjoyed while dining on a delicious lunch provided by Symphrose and prepared by her new chef.

While Sabra and Lee stole away for a visit to the National Museum of Rwanda, Marla and Anne staged photo shots for the hotel’s website (to be prepared by her mentors, Matt and Mary in Australia), brochures and other marketing materials. And, they prepared a customer survey and strategized for business development, marketing and branding. Bpeacers in the New York area will have the opportunity to meet Symphrose at a Bpeace Rwanda Team meeting in April when she will be visiting New York.
All in all, the whole team was very impressed with the hotel and with Symphrose. There was significant progress made since we were last there – seven months ago. The hotel rooms, conference center, restaurant and bar were opened for business. She had four guests staying at the hotel and a few customers came by for lunch and late afternoon drinks. Symphrose served us breakfast and lunch during the day, the meals were quite good. Better than some of the meals we had in Kigali. She has hosted a few weddings and seminars as well. Symphrose hired a manager, who has nine years experience at the Novotel in Kigali. This is his first job as Manager. There hired 42 staff members who are on probation for three months.

Although the hotel is open for business, it’s not completely finished. A second restaurant – BBQ and bar – is not yet finished. It will be a very nice attraction when complete. There is space for a gift shop and business center. Symphrose is waiting for 10 computers to be delivered – four for the hotel and six for the business center. She will be getting wireless connection, a big competitive advantage considering that none of the other hotels in Butare offer wireless service. We advised Symphrose to hire a good IT technician for the inevitable problems.

We spent significant amount of time talking about the hotel’s brand identity. We discussed changing or modifying the name of the hotel – Le Petit Prince – to get rid of the French identity and create a brand image around having an authentic Rwanda experience. We recommended using local crafts to decorate the hotel and naming the hotel restaurants using local names. Symphrose welcomed this idea and relayed a local folktale about the area, which could be useful for the rebranding. We will provide Symphrose with three options for a new name and brand identity from which she can choose. We all agreed it’s important to decide soon before designing marketing materials. We recommended that Symphrose start developing relationships with hotels at the nearby game park as well as hotels and tourist board in Kigali. She asked for help in this area. Later this week, Anne and Richard will accompany Symphrose to a meeting with the tourist board. Once Symphrose sees a sample sales call, she will be better prepared to make sales calls on her own.

Symphrose’s biggest need right now is help in staff training and marketing. For the marketing materials, we collected pictures and information for development of brochures and a website. We would like to find another volunteer hotel consultant interested in helping Symphrose in these two areas

B2P down to the wire
Meanwhile on her last day in Rwanda, Wendy met with Emerita for a B2P interview. Emerita who, together with about 30 other women partners, owns and runs Maman Sportif, the conference center where Bpeace has been holding its workshops. Emerita and her partners spent their adult lives as refugees in Burundi, and returned to their homeland after the genocide. While in Burundi, Emerita and her partners formed Maman Sportif to teach literacy and handiwork to the Rwandese women living in nearby refugee camps. After the genocide, Emerita, her family and her Maman Sportif partners returned to Rwanda and have been continuing the Maman Sportif mission. They manage literacy centers throughout the country and fund them with the profits earned from conferences (including Bpeace workshops). As all working women, Emerita felt pressure at home. But she never felt the pressure of balancing her home and work lives. “When you see success, you don’t feel your burden.”

Friday, January 26, 2007


Friday (Ku wa gatanu): Dreams Can Come True

Richard overjoyed at graduating.

Richard, his twin brother Ronald and Geofrey.

Sabra, Stephanie, Barbara and Richard at Chez Landou.

Marla, Wendy and Console, affectionately known as the Dairy Queen.

Stephanie, Wendy, Languida (with the funeral home trade journals Ray sent) and Marla.

Associate visits
First off, the team of Marla, Barbara, Stephanie and Wendy visited Languida who gleaned several new ideas from the funeral trade journals provided in the Business Inspiration Kit (BIK) assembled by Ray.

Marla, Barbara, Stephanie and Wendy visited Console who has two successful businesses (retail dairy business and a party rental business) and has plans for expansion. Console wants to buy a refrigerated truck so she can control the transport and ensure that she gets the inventory she needs, and it’s fresh. With her own truck, she can also increase volume and develop a good wholesale business. Console has excellent credit and Bpeace is helping her maximize her borrowing power through the relationships we’re building with institutions like Fina Bank. When we asked her about the Bpeace market research training session and if she wanted to create a comment card, she said “Big time." Now perhaps that was embellished in translation, but it seems like she is excited about her new expertise. She ended our session by giving us each a rose. Clearly she has a touch for client appreciation.

Sabra and Lee spent the morning with Constance, Solina, and Francoise. They have all made progress with bookkeeping skills. Not only are they mastering ways to manage their businesses effectively but are – as a result – able to see that they are running profitable businesses and thus able to look into the future with optimism supported by real evidence of their progress.

Having educated herself with books but still yearning to study abroad, Solina is beginning to believe that she can fulfill her dreams to travel abroad and pursue a degree in horticulture in order to expand her expertise and grow her business further. While working with Solina's budget we came to the conclusion that she had a net profit. It was at that point that she realized that her dreams were becoming real possibilities. "You mean my dreams can really come true?" asked Solina. “That’s right, girl,” answered Sabra. That's what Bpeace is all about.

Sharing Joyous Milestones
As we see our associates’ progress in the fulfillment of their goals, today we also had the honor and pleasure to share the milestones of three members of our Bpeace family in Rwanda. Our program manager Richard – together with Rwanda Knits’ Geoffrey and our interpreter Susan – was graduated from the Kigali Institute of Education in its second ever graduating class. Anne had the opportunity to attend the graduation as an honorary family member. We celebrated at lunch at the famed Chez Lando (Google it…) with Richard’s mother, twin brother Ronald and sister Hope and in the evening high atop a Kigali hill with Geoffrey and his family at his new home with relatives and friends who had gathered together for this special occasion. Cari, we passed on your best wishes and love to Geofrey who made special mention of the impact you have made on his life.

Live from Radio Anguilla

We hear it’s a little chilly back in the US but it’s hot and sunny here in Rwanda and in the British West Indies where word of Bpeace mission hit the radio waves today. Host Calvin Bartlett interviewed Sabra for his weekly business program for Radio Anguilla. Sabra discussed the similarities between our Rwandan associates and the women that she trains in Anguilla.

Unity Club
While Sabra discussed these parallels by cell phone from afar, our mission team met with members of the Unity Club, a charitable association of Rwandan women either serving in or married to current and past members of the Rwandan government to explore ways in which Bpeace and the Unity Club can further our shared goals of economic development and general social welfare in Rwanda.

Junior Bpeacers
Wendy had another B2P interview today, this time with Auréa and her daughters, Claudia (a/k/a Coco) and Sylvie. Because of discrimination, Auréa was denied the opportunity to go to college. After the genocide, she went back to school and became a lawyer. She’s preparing to start her own practice, where she’ll represent impoverished genocide victims. Auréa says that she became a lawyer so she could avenge the death of her family members in a peaceful way. Her advice to the Bpeace associates in Afghanistan is to move forward quickly and take opportunities when you have them. “You must make up for lost time.”

Claudia, age 12, offers advice to the Afghan associates’ daughters. “When you grow up, you must continue the work of your mothers.” Sylvie, age 9, agrees that it’s important for women to work. “You need to get money so you can feed your family.” Claudia wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and Sylvie wants to be a singer. We found our first associates for the Bpeace class of 2017!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Thursday (Ku Wa Kane): Circling the globe with messages of hope

Associates from left - Jeanne, Symphrose, Harriette, Constance, and Esther.

Pat and Wendy, juggling for peace.


Associates at coffee break - Leny in center with Languida, Pascasie, Constance and Esther.


Mural of associates' peace drawings.

Anne, Ambassador Arietti and his wife Leslie.

Pat, Anne and Wendy spent the morning facilitating a discussion on Business to Peace (B2P). Pat led the workshop by using circles (one for peace and one for business) to help the associates distinguish the "business mission" from the "peace mission" of their businesses. The associates discovered that these missions overlapped in their businesses and that they will have to manage them both.

Pat then asked the group what advice they have for the Bpeace Afghan associates. The associates embraced the question with enthusiasm, and their answers came pouring out:

Esther advises to “look for peace fast, because you can’t have business without peace.”

Jeanne says that “you have to fight for peace and you have to fight to live. Having a business gives you something to fight for.”

According to Languida, “you must vote to make changes. Fight for your rights and speak out to your government.”

Pascasie recognizes that “today’s leaders were yesterday’s children, and women are the ones who will teach the children.”

“Don’t lose hope,” advises Harriette. “The Rwandan women fight for peace alongside their husbands and sons.”

Solina’s advice is to work together. “When you work together, you get the strength to do what you couldn’t do alone. You get ideas you couldn’t think of on your own. And you’ll think about others, rather than just yourself.”

Peggy says not to stay silent. “Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your problems. You never know when someone might be able to help you.”

Leny notes that many people believe that the government is responsible for peace. She recommends teaching people to take responsibility for making peace. “Even if you don’t know your neighbor, you still should respect their rights. If you encounter a problem, you must try to solve it, even if it means changing your culture.”

Finally, according to Nadia, the women in Rwanda learned from the genocide that they are able to take care of themselves, since the men were also victims and could not protect the women. Her advice is to "be prepared to take care of yourself.”

After this lively and uplifting discussion, Anne led the associates in making personal collages that will hang on a mobile, reflecting images of peace. We will bring it back home for everyone to see and then the B2P team aims to bring the mobile to the associates in Afghanistan, who will add to the mobile to return to Rwanda.

Francois, who owns restaurants, sends her love to Eugenie. For those of you who don’t know Eugenie, she is a genocide survivor living in the US and pursuing a Masters in genocide studies and our team member). Francois was Eugenie’s teacher (and would love to see pictures of Eugenie and Mystica, so email some to Richard).

Remembering and Moving Forward
In the afternoon Anne and Marla shared with the associates what they can expect in the coming months from Bpeace-- including the Economic Development Fund, business training and cost sharing for computer training. With rounds of applause, the women expressed their commitment and gratitude to Bpeace. There is a lot of exciting work ahead for the Rwanda Team. Save the date--February 28th --for the mission presentation in New York City to learn all and get involved.

Then Marla and Anne had a fortuitous meeting with the Customer Development Manager of Johnson Diversey (JD). JD is a cleaning products company with its Africa headquarters based in Kenya. A few months ago JD approached Bpeace Associate Leny to be a distributor for Rwanda and Burundi. Since then Heather and Loretta have been advising Leny on this opportunity. JD is extremely interested in Leny as a quality candidate and with Bpeace in her corner, Leny has an even better chance of winning the contract. It is such a great opportunity that, at one point, Anne considered throwing in her credentials to be considered for the position.

Meanwhile Stephanie, Barbara, Wendy and Lee took the opportunity to explore Kigali. They purchased local crafts and paid a visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre. They experienced many powerful emotions as they viewed the exhibits including one on “how the world looked the other way.” The message that we took away from our visit to the museum is that helping one person can truly help the world. This message embodies the Bpeace mission as we strive to improve our Associate’s lives, and bring peace and prosperity to Rwanda.

And Sabra spent a relaxing day with friends of Bpeace--Joy and Janet visiting their craft shop, where all the cool Rwanda earrings come from. They took Sabra to visit a newly developed facility built for the women who are weaving peace baskets for Macys as well as other retail outlets. The facility includes a dormitory and a cafeteria presently under construction.

Dignitary dinner
We topped off a fulfilling day with drinks with friends of Bpeace--the Ambassador Michael Arietti, his wife Leslie and Danny Stoian, Economic Consul at the Embassy. Leslie promised to visit Richard at his office. Richard said he will not let Leslie leave his office until she becomes a member of Bpeace.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Opening the Doors to New Ideas, Funding and Partners

Stephanie and Sabra outside Fina Bank in front of safety deposit boxes..

Barbara training the Bpeace associates in market research techniques.

Francoise (left) and Speciose writing a comment card.

Stephanie and Lee take a photo break with neighborhood kids.

Susan, our interpreter, and Jeanne.

The beaming faces of pioneers in Rwanda: Bpeace mission team and our associates.

Pioneers of Rwanda

Today Barbara, with team on hand, facilitated the market research training session where the associates learned how to create a customer feedback survey. It was held at our associate Emerita’s conference center Mamaan Sportif. The material was developed especially for our associates by Barbara (owner of Outlaw Consulting, a market research consulting company), Anne and EmilyBloch (Bpeace's Communications Manager).

The associates learned how to create and field a customer feedback survey. Barbara remarked “this was the first time I have been able to share my ‘career knowledge’ with people who need it more than my clients! While the session was tiring given the complexity of the information and the language barrier, it was amazingly satisfying. I felt confident that almost all embraced the concept and were excited about their new business tool. They were a bit concerned that people will not want to participate or be honest in answering surveys because ‘this is not the way’ in Rwanda. But after a lively discussion most recognized that they will be pioneers and one step ahead of their competitors.”

As usual the women lit up when Sabra showed up---they had immediately bonded with her on the last mission. Lee was busy taking 500 photos—Richard was indispensable in being able to quickly grasp and interpret complex ideas to the women. At the end the associates filled out a satisfaction survey on the training session. Barbara compiled the results and looks like we’re on track with our own pioneering efforts as far as our associates are concerned.

A Match Made in Heaven
On the last mission Marla identified Fina Bank as a potential partner for the Bpeace Economic Development Fund. Fina Bank is a development bank and therefore shares with Bpeace a social mission to help the people of Rwanda.

Today we – Sabra, Stephanie and Marla – returned to Fina Bank to procure a formal commitment. And…. We got it! The Managing Director was wowed by the dynamic Bpeace team – Sabra’s background in banking, Stephanie’s experience in finance and Marla’s knowledge of microfinance – and a potential pool of clients the bank would not normally access. Tomorrow we present the opportunity to the associates to get their commitment. With the pro-bono support of the law-firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP (introduced to Bpeace by Loretta Davis), we will look forward to formalizing this partnership.

And, (pay attention Steve) the Managing Director of Fina Bank asked for Bpeace to conduct customer service training for the bank staff.

Meanwhile Wendy met with representatives of Women Can Do It, a USAID-funded organization that helps women emerge from traditional roles. They have programs that help women who are running for elected office, and women who already hold decision-making positions in government. Women Can Do It also has a program to help entrepreneurs manage their businesses and make strategic decisions like a CEO. This may be a good resource for our associates.

Spreading the Bpeace Word
Marla, Sabra, Stephanie and Richard visited the Business Development Services unit of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation. Many of our associates are members of the Federation which operates like a Chamber of Commerce. The Federation is very interested in seeing our Rwanda training material; we will be returning with a presentation. There may be a similar opportunity as we had in Afghanistan to make a licensing contract with our training material.

Toasting Today's Success
In the evening, some of the team members shared a carafe of red wine at Kirusimbi – a local restaurant – where we dined on fish, enjoyed live music of easy listening tunes of the 70’s (Sabra knows the words to them all) and toasted to a successful and productive day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Ku Wa Kabili (Tuesday): Messages of Hope From Kigali to Kabul

Lee captured this incredible view from Richard's office.

Sabra talking shop with Leiny.

Wendy and Jeanne discussing B2P (Business to Peace).

Barbara, her mentee Jeanne and Jeanne's son.

Anne and Languida.

Languida explaining her business and peace efforts to Pat, Susan and Wendy.

From left, Sabra, Nadia, Sylvie, Pierette, and Stephanie.

Today marked an important occasion for Bpeace. Wendy, Pat, and Barbara (Jeanne’s mentor) started the day with a visit to Jeanne, where Wendy conducted the first B2P (Business to Peace) interview. We’re connecting the dots from business to peace by exploring ways our associate’s businesses can contribute to long lasting peace. And our associates are happy to be part of it. We hope these stories will inspire the Bpeace Afghan associates in their peacebuilding efforts.

Jeanne tearfully shared memories of her experience during the genocide and sent words of encouragement to her fellow Bpeace associates in Afghanistan. “I want to tell those women to continue to fight for peace and to know their efforts will help future generations…Take risk, don’t be afraid. Fear will make you fail. It’s important for people to learn to pursue their interest and also respect other people’s rights and don’t get in the way of their pursuit of happiness. Business is like a war. You have to fight and you can succeed with determination and will.”

After interviewing Jeanne, Wendy stated “this justifies being on the mission and if I went home today it would have been worthwhile.”

Anne joined Wendy, Pat and our interpreter Susan to continue the B2P interviews with Languida at her funeral business. Languida is a star role model for B2P because she is running a business that traditionally women didn’t run and in which cultural issues surround the taboo of death. When asked by Wendy what advice Languida would like to give our associates in Afghanistan, Languida replied, “If not now, when?” Languida told us how she was interviewed on a radio talk show regarding her start up of a funeral business. As a result, people traveled from miles away to see her business and get her advice. “I have the same idea but I was afraid to start the business,” they told her. They also wanted to see the business so they’ll know where to go if they need her.

After the B2P interviews, Wendy found that what most resonates for her is how the women who need help are so willing to help others.

To support the efforts of our courageous Rwandan Associates…

Anne, Marla and Lee met with USAID and the Department of Defense to identify regional programs and resources to support the efforts of our associates. Anne and Marla reviewed current and future Bpeace training programs and possible opportunities for partnering. With the same intent, Barbara, Stephanie, Marla and Richard met with the head of UNIDO Operations in Rwanda to learn about its recently launched Private Sector Expansion and Development Project.

Simply Budgeting

Meanwhile back at Richard’s office, Sabra continued to work with our associates on reading the stories their “books” tell. She reviewed business budgets with Pierrette, Nadia, Sylvie and Leiny and emphasized the importance of knowing your monthly basic costs and preparing for peaks and valleys. Sabra also discussed with Leiny the opportunity to become a distributor of cleaning products with guidance from Leiny's mentors back in the US, Loretta Davis and Heather Rees. Sabra observed that whether you're a businesswoman in New Jersey, Anguilla or Rwanda, the issues are the same and so are the solutions.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Today, the sun breaks through

Sabra. left, with Harriette and Jeanne - two salon owners.

Nadia's emotional reaction when she learned that Anne is going to co-mentor her with
Anne's sister Golde.

Francoise and Marla at Restaurant Amahoro (which means peace in Kinyarwanda).

Pierette and Peggy in front of their freight forwarding business - Fast and Honest.

From left: Lee, Anne, Solina, her daughter and brother, and Stephanie.

On-the-ground consulting was the order of the day, as the team split up to spend quality time with the associates, asking, listening and advising—as is the Bpeace way.

Money makes the world go round
Back in Rwanda by critical acclaim, Sabra held court at Richard’s office as she met with three associates to review their finances and discuss how, as Sabra says, “The numbers tell the story.”

Sabra, as a financial consultant in the US and Anguilla, is one of those lucky Bpeacers who directly translates what she does for a living into her Bpeace mentoring and training. Brigitte, Harriet and Jeanne—who all own separate beauty salons--are working together to refine their financial tracking systems. They are struggling to manage their inventory (hair care products) and to understand the differing levels of profitability for all the services they offer.

Sisters wherever we go
Nadia was literally moved to tears when Anne announced that she would co-mentor Nadia with another Bpeacer, Anne’s sister Golde Kantor. Nadia wants to transform her restaurant into an Internet cafe to serve the needs of the increasing number of business travelers, as well as offering services that will contribute to the development of computer literacy in the local community.
Anne, Wendy and Lee see a market need for these types of services and together with Richard discussed with Nadia the next steps to help her achieve her dream. A short-term goal is for Nadia to identify a technology expert.

Brand, baby, brand
Barbara, Stephanie and Marla visited
Francoise who is currently running three related businesses in Kigali-- a restaurant, a party decoration business, and a catering operation. Her restaurant is doing well because of Francoise’s engaging personality as well as its high-traffic location close to a main Kigali bus station. Francoise provides internship opportunities for women looking to gain business and restaurant skills.

Right now all three businesses operate under different names and Barbara, Stephanie and Marla emphasized the need to trade on Francoise’s restaurant success and brand the other businesses to effectively cross-market all three. Francoise also needs to acquire a loan in order to purchase equipment to expand the catering buisness. And hey, Bpeacers and friends reading out there—Francoise needs a mentor! Who do you know who can help her bulld these busiensses and create a brand?

Leasing? What a concept
Pierrette and Peggy operate a freight-forwarding business, critical to any country on the rebound. Barbara, Wendy and Marla introduced the concept of leasing as a means for Pierette and Peggy to purchase a large truck to move beyond their domestic service and expand into international transport within the East African Economic Community--a necessity for their survival and sustainability.

The growing reputation of their business--the only one in its industry owned and operated by women in Rwanda--is reflected in Pierrette’s recent selection to participate in a USAID training program. She will attend regional seminars with other local freight companies to learn new industry regulations. Pierette and Peggy need a mentor who can help connect them to freight forwarding partners in the US and Europe, as well as create a logo and website for their company. Who do you know who can assist?

Blooming big
Floriculture is a $194 million export business for Rwanda, selling mostly to Holland and Belgium.
Solina focuses on the domestic flower market and operates Saintpaulia Flower Center, where she sells plants and flowers, and provides landscaping services and gardening contracts. Her clients include private individuals and businesses¾a hotel, and an insurance company. Appropriately, when Anne, Stephanie, Richard and Lee visited Solina’s lush operation, it was the first full day of sun since our arrival.

The team listened to Solina’s current business issues, and Anne reviewed recommendations and questions from Solina’s mentor Madelyn Simon, who operates a similar business in the US. Solina expressed her joy and gratitude for having Madelyn, an accomplished industry expert, as her mentor. Solina and the Bpeacers brainstormed on ways to help her generate more contract clients, including the exploration of cross selling with other associates to provide greater visibility. Solina and her brother, who works in the business, were very excited when Anne shared new logo ideas and was beaming when her daughter Larissa arrived home from school to meet our team.

Winding up the day
Out to dinner and a quick shop. Barbara so far is in the shopping lead, but we’re expecting big things from Lee, who collects African art.


Ku Cyemeru (Sunday - A Day of Rest and Worship for Many Rwandans…but not our incredibly hard-working team.)

Barbara and Stephanie creating a scene at the market.

Barbara, at right, with her mentee Jeanne and Jeanne’s son Lauben.

Sabra, left, and her mentee Pascasie.

Ange’s first digital picture (of Richard and Marla).


Our team is finally assembled with the arrival of Pat Pasick, who joined us for a Rwandan breakfast at the InterCon. While Marla, Anne, Wendy and Pat adjourned to the hotel lobby to finalize the details of the B2P (Business to Peace) interviews and workshop – a key focus of this mission – Barbara, Stephanie and Lee were honored with a quick but very personal tour of Kigali by Gilbert, one of our wonderful drivers.

On our way to Kimisagara market, Gilbert recounted details of his experience during the 1994 genocide in which he lost his father, both grandfathers and his youngest sister. While the losses continue to be mourned, life abounds amid the stalls of vegetables, crafts, meat fish, palm oil… in this local hillside market. Everything here is on a hillside which, of course, is why Rwanda is known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills.”

Associate mentor introductions
Jeanne and Barbara
In the afternoon, Wendy and Anne accompanied Barbara to Jeanne’s GENESIS Salon and home. At the beauty salon our team members enjoyed fresh orange-pineapple juice and lively conversation. We were happy to see on a Sunday afternoon, the salon filled with customers.

Barbara and the rest of the team already started considering ways to generate weekday clientele for Jeanne’s salon. Also on hand for this visit were Jeanne’s husband Labon and her children Cynthia and Lauben who received colored chalk from Wendy. In addition to recognizing the benefits of ownership, Jeanne proudly described the distinction of her business as one treating all clients with equal respect “whether or not they are wearing shoes.”

Sabra and Pascasie
Sabra and Susan had a wonderful meeting with Pascasie and her family at their beautiful home. It was great to see that Pascasie’s entire family is involved with the growth of her beverage distribution business. Sabra was especially excited to realize that this business is intended to be passed on to the next generation. Susan and Sabra both agreed that the key to growing Pascasie’s business is to help her determine which customer segment she should target to generate enough growth to remain competitive. Sabra can’t wait for her next visit on this mission with Pascasie.

Ange and Lee
Meanwhile Marla, Stephanie and Richard accompanied Lee to the home of Ange where mentor and associate met for the first time. Ange runs a photography and video studio out of her home office.

Marla offered Ange her first opportunity to use a digital camera. Ange also showed some recent video footage from an event for which she had been referred by fellow Bpeace associate Console. We were all impressed by Ange’s knowledge of current trends in photography and her ability to assess the equipment she needs to ensure her success in this growing competitive field in Kigali.

We ended the evening with debriefs, dinner and blogging and are ready for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Live from Kigali... its Saturday Night !

The whole gang at Kigali airport

Marla and Richard getting down to business

Starting 20 or so hours earlier, half the Rwanda Mission team, Marla, Anne, Barbara and Lee initially assembled at JFK. Fresh from a meeting with Candace Matthews, President of SoftSheen Carson, and Bpeacer Binta Niambi Brown, Marla and Anne arrived with Dark and Lovely samples for our Rwandan associate salon owners and a plethora of training materials, supplies and gifts for our associates in Rwanda. Miraculously, everything fit into the extra suitcase Lee had brought.

En route to Brussels they would be joined by Sabra, Wendy and Stephanie to continue on to Kigali where they would meet up with Pat. Arriving to heavy rains in Kigali, the first seven of our eight team members were greeted warmly by associates Languida and Jeanne (with their husband and son, respectively); Richard (Bpeace Program Manager), Geofrey (Rwanda Knits Program Manager), and John and Gilbert – who will be our drivers and guides in the coming days. What a wonderful feeling to be greeted by familiar warm and friendly faces after so many hours in transit.

Be sure to tune in daily to stay on top of our jam packed agenda.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


We're getting ready.

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