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.

It's great to hear about the diversified businesses of the Associates, yet the business problems are similar. I am sure they find great comfort in your support.

Can't wait to hear more tomorrow.

Marla, Anne, and Team...

The photos and descriptions of your work so far are inspiring. Someone stopped me in the supermarket this weekend and asked about Bpeace. They had received our solicitation letter and were considering making a donation. They said they wanted to make sure they were contributing to an organization the REALLY was "hands on" and having a direct impact on women in disadvantaged countries. If I can copy it from the blog, I'm going to send them that photo of Nadia's reaction upon learning that she will have two wonderful mentors.

Keep it up. You know the home team is here cheering you on.

Pam V.
Hi all,

It's so great to hear about the individual attention the associates are getting to help address their specific challenges. This is what is so unique about what we bring -- along with the personal relationships.

Barb, what are you buying? Can't wait to see!

It's so great reading what you are all doing there. I hope to join you one day.

Barbara, shopping lead not withstanding, what you and your team are doing is beyond commendable. This is what being part of humanity is all about. It is so easy to believe that "the good lack all convictions while the bad are full of passionate intensity". You and your group are proving that good people can have the passionate intensity that can make a difference in this beautiful world of ours. Keep up the good works.

I must admit that Nadia's reaction to being mentored by us took my breath away. All of the work the team is doing is not only meaningful but inspiring. Hats off to the entire team! Love to all, GOlde.
Dear Rwanda Team,

The blog is fantastic! And the sense of work-in-progress is just remarkable. You are obviously building on a relationship with our associates and getting to the "real work" of launching their businesses. And you sound as if you're having fun! Keep the brainstorming going...and stay well and inspired by the good work you're doing.
Ellen Lubin-Sherman
Really inspiring work. You're making a real difference in a place that desperately needs it!

Well Barb you are out there big time "doing it" making a difference and even getting a chance to shop on the side. Looking forward to hearing all the details when you return.
Blessings to all of you!

Karen Rae
Simply unbelieveable how much progress you all have made in such a short time. Thank you for sharing such fabulous photos and stories with us back home.

Continue the fabulous work!

Much love,
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