After a whole year of laying foundation for able business women in the country, Business Council for Peace, US-based NGO has embarked on helping the same women design public peace building projects.
The first year’s end was marked by awarding of certificates to women who had acquired knowledge and skills through one to one or group mentoring and training at their places of work.
Kate Buggeln, Business council for peace Governing Board chair says the main objective for the international NGO is to ensure peace and prosperity in countries emerging from conflicts and wars.
The US based organisation aims at helping women in regions of conflict and post-conflict build businesses to sustain their families and strengthen their abilities to foster peace.
She says for the first year, Rwandan business women have been receiving consultants, mentors and experts from the US to help them promote their businesses. “Women make the future of the country,” she says.
The first year started in October 2006 and many women were helped in issues of marketing, and customer care for their businesses.
Buggeln says for the second year, women have to design business projects that aim at bringing peace. She however says they should consider the cost of the projects, and the capacity to transform the community.
According to Buggeln, the projects should be able to help those who have been to school and those who did not get a chance of getting any formal education.
“We shall fund all the projects that the organisation members will choose. They are the ones to make the decision of the projects they need as long as it links to peace building,” she said.
She noted that Rwandan women have the capacity to build peace in the country.
Comparing Rwanda to Afghanistan, Buggeln says Rwandan women are empowered and have the confidence to foster peace, a factor she said is still lacking among Afghan women.
In Afghanistan, Bpeace has a problem of building confidence among women first if they are to do any thing for themselves.
“Men in Afghanistan have to do everything, which makes women dependants but in Rwanda, women can do anything as long as they have the support,” she says.
Buggeln is worried idleness in Afghanistan might lead to continued insecurity. She says that the country lacks job opportunities and schools.
“There is restriction of women and children’s rights. In most cases men lead women, and women remain oppressed,” she noted.
Among the suggested projects, Rwandan women said they need a training centre to avoid idleness among the unemployed. They say with such a centre, many people will get what to do at the end of the training.
The project intends to start with unskilled casual labourers or those with nothing to do.
During their brainstorming session for the project, the group agreed that with training there will be good and improved service delivery in the country.
They cited a case of those in house help jobs; the training can keep them at job after gaining the needed positive thinking of what they are engaged in.
Constancy Mukankusi, one of the business women suggests having a project teaching women and girls in prison to do handcraft.
She says when they leave prison; they can have some thing to do and easily get integrated in the community.
Mukankusi noted that passively women participated in the Genocide than men did, saying that if they had wanted, they would have stopped their sons and husbands from the killings since they have the powers.
Languida Karuranga, also a member, suggested that the training starts with people out side the prison.
She says they are the ones charged with taking food to the prisoners yet they do not have enough to eat and feed the prisoners.
Sylvie Mukankusi says they need a hand craft training centre for Genocide and Aids widows and orphans. She says these people seem to be isolated and lack financial support.
She adds that such people need peace building projects for a better future since there are some children who abandon education in order to take care of their siblings.
“They need such an act of peace. They seem to be isolated and not cared for,” she says.
Women also suggested having a day-care centre with hope to solve the many challenges working mothers encounter. They say working women employ maids who cannot carefully handle babies sometimes leading to children’s death.
Symphrose Mukamazimpaka, owner of Le Petit Prince Hotel in Butare appreciated the help given to them during the first year.
She says she received Bpeace US members at her hotel who were able to train her and hotel staff on how to properly run the hotel.
“I learnt how to manage the hotel and the staff,” she says. The hotel staff was taught how to offer services and general work around the hotel.
She adds that the training gives value to one’s business noting that she learnt that the business does not help her alone but also the community.
Denise C. Ward owner of Hospitality Gulu from America also Bpeace member, who has worked as an expert volunteer in Le Petit Prince Hotel for one month, handled the staff into hotel opening and closing procedures.
Ward hopes to see much more things changing in that hotel after one month. “All employees are happy, they did not have some one before to direct them in what to do,” she says.
Stephen Kulovits, Director Customer service, Care Management Company from USA says doing voluntary work has been inspiring.
He says he helped to raise money to finish a home for people living with HIV/Aids and also tutored 50 students in New York City. He says he believes in Bpeace’s mission of working with business women.
“Am helping associates (women) with customer service and implement their businesses,” he says.
Solina Mukamana, a dealer in landscape businesses says she received an expert in landscape with whom she stayed for a month. She was taught a lot of things and has presently improved her services.
“We used to make some errors out of ignorance, but now we have corrected them,” she said. “We have improved our customer care, marketing and have had technical assistant,” she appreciates.
Among the group from USA, was Kevyn Kirven, Art director and Russell Brown, Senior Artistic Director of Regis.
They have been helping Rwandans with skills in saloon services. They say they hope their Company will continue with Bpeace offering help where possible.