Peace Through Business

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2016 Peace Mentor

Where to begin? Let me start by saying – I’m not a writer. I wish I paid more attention in school because I have so many things to say and just don’t know where to start or how to organize my thoughts so they even slightly resembled what is going on in my head. But I’m going to give it a try. You have to start somewhere, right? I’m never to old to learn so this will be the starting point on my literary journey.

We have owned this insurance agency for a long time. Some days it seems like a lifetime! Up until the last few years I kept my head down and worked hard and long. That’s what dad taught me to do so that’s what I did. I didn’t do much volunteering in my business life. It was mostly personal volunteering in my church and other organizations. Through work in Vistage and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses organization, the last four years have been very challenging and rewarding at the same time. Working with these organizations taught me how to have more balance in my work life which includes getting out of the office more. I work just as long and hard but I’ve added corporate volunteering to my work life and it has made such a huge difference! One of those experiences is with the IEEW (Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women) and Peace Through Business®

2016 Peace Valerie Freeman

There are some moments in my professional life that are just more rewarding than others. I have to do many tasks that aren’t much fun but they have to get done so you do what you gotta do. On the flip side, as a business owner, I get the opportunity to participate in some amazing programs. Volunteering for the IEEW.org’s Peace Through Business ® is one of those moments for me. Peace Through Business® is a training and mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. It combines training in their country with a trip to the US where they get more training, live and work with an American woman business owner for 7 days as well as dinners and other fabulous events.

When I first volunteered as a mentor last year I was a little unsure as to how much guidance I could offer the Rwandan business owner I was paired with. She was a smart,beautiful lady who owned an advertising company and had a goal of owning a TV station. This year I was paired up with Jeannette who owned a gas station and wanted to grow to own her own land and building for more gas stations. What I found was that I did have a lot to offer them. I surprised myself. They were so different and yet I was able to listen to their unique challenges and brainstorm with them. Some of their challenges were the similar to mine as a typical business owner but some challenges were very specific to their country and fascinating to discuss. In the end, I wonder if maybe I got more out of the program than they did. I hope I added value to their journey here in the US. I know they added value to my life and I am so thankful!
2016 Peace cake

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