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.

Wow. What great, full days you are having. I am so moved by the interviews that Wendy has had, focusing on the business to peace connection. It seems to exist, yes? I am also glad to see the that Sabra, you are constant on the concept that the numbers tell it all. How true. And finally, who knew that Richard had such a great view from his window. Beautiful image to pass on to us--the sun breaking through dark and ominous clouds that are passing. More photos of the associates. Its so good to see them. Loretta
Sabra, Stephanie and Marla - congratulations!!! Funding plus Bpeace training - that really lays the foundation for success. This is such an amazing process - I applaud each of you for your unique contribution to this mission. Love to all, Golde.
We're all just as proud as can be back here in the cold US of A. I am delighted at the strong connections between the team and the associates. We sent out the blog link to about 1,100 Bpeace friends and donors tonight, so the blog should be getting some additional well-deserved traffic.

Work hard, play hard, sleep fast.

Hi all,

Great work again today! Barbara, it's wonderful to see you using your talents for the benefit of our associates. How rewarding for you and them!

And it's so important and useful that we have such a strong financial team for the women. It sounds like the Fina Bank will be a helpful ally. I really see how so many strands of Bpeace's work are weaving together now.

Thank you for taking the time to post the blog and photos. I know you are tired at the end of the day. I am following your journey with great interest.
Wow!! I am thrilled that all of the activities and meetings are going so beautifully - but - of course they are! With a team of such intelligent, creative, driven and kind individuals from both sides of the Atlantic what else could we expect? I am just beside myself with excitement that the economic development fund is a GO. Good job everybody.
Congratulations on your fabulous work supporting the women of Rwanda in this powerful way! Anne, I'm so glad that you and Mary crossed paths and that we can keep abreast of each others' activities. Amahoro, Willa
Congratulations !!! What a list of accomplishments. The associates are so lucky to be working with this great team.

Marla - Did Charlotte like the bags?

Best to all....Maureen
Does Sabra know ALL the words to the 70's songs?!?! And, she dragged me to every concert as she sang too!...Sooo, embarassing! Now, I do it my kid!LOL

Glad you all getting alot accomplished! Looks like great fun too!

Sabra's daughter :) Celeste
Typo: Glad you all ARE getting alot accomplished.." :)

Sabra's daughter-Celeste
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