Supporting Economic Empowerment for Women

In 2006, The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) created PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS, a business training and mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda that focuses on the education and promotion of business and leadership skills among women to help build stable democracies. AT&T has been a major sponsor of PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS since its inception, as it embodies many issues that are important to the company, most notably gender equality and the empowerment of women in business.

As part of the 2014 PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program, the Women of AT&T employee resource group and several female executives engaged in supporting activities. They served as mentors and volunteers providing guidance for the students to enable the women to accomplish their entrepreneurial goals. One such example is Sondra Achimon, an AT&T area manager in Dallas, Texas, who served as a mentor to Jessie Gakwardi Benimana from Kigali, Rwanda.

Jessie had graduated at the top of her class at a science and tech university and opened her own mobile technology business. Sondra spent several months mentoring Jessie online and then hosted her for a week, providing guidance on how to further enhance Jessie’s mobile business in Rwanda. Additionally, employee volunteers provided technology instruction on topics such as using the Internet, social media training and mobile technologies to maximize operational efficiency and promote their businesses.

Since the program began, IEEW has directly trained more than 500 women in Rwanda and Afghanistan through its PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program. On average, 80 percent of the women who have gone through PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS are still in business; each graduate in Rwanda creates 22 jobs for fellow country men and women, and each graduate in Afghanistan creates 28 jobs.