It is widely acknowledged that economically stable societies have a much greater capacity for peace. It is also a common belief that small business is the backbone of economic stability. Many contend that recognizing how these two ideologies work together is the formula for success.
PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS, a part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, is a training and mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. It is designed to educate women on ways to promote their business and use their leadership skills to help build stable democracies in their respective countries.
Each year, the program brings 30 women from developing war-torn nations to the United States to receive basic business education. This involves classroom instruction as well as mentorships.
Susan Chambers, M.D., an OB/GYN physician at Lakeside Women’s Hospital, has participated in the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program since its inception 11 years ago.
“I have hosted a variety of Rwandan and Afghan women business owners over the years. They not only shadow me at work but also live with me in my home. I get to know them both personally and professionally. We meet as strangers and leave as friends.”
This year, Chambers was matched with Sharifa Hesarnaee, M.D., from Afghanistan. Hesarnaee has been practicing medicine for 11 years. She says the biggest medical challenge in her country is illiteracy and an overall low level of health knowledge among her patients. “Couple that with ill equipped hospitals, and you have cyclical problem. Even our emergency rooms don’t have the equipment and materials we need to properly care for our people.”
This is Hesarnaee’s first visit through the program. “I came to be inspired and it has exceeded my expectations,” says Hesarnaee. “I have learned so much here on everything from how to counsel patients to the latest techniques in gynecological surgery.”
She plans to take what she has learned back to Afghanistan and share it with her medical associates there, so they can implement like initiatives and improve the health of their patients. PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS graduates understand the importance of personal responsibility and pledge to support their country by being the agents of change needed to revolutionize their economy.