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Toni Maloney's path to peace: create jobs

New York-based nonprofit Bpeace provides a network of business professionals who volunteer to help entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Rwanda, and El Salvador.

By Suzi ParkerCorrespondent / October 27, 2011

Toni Maloney cofounded Bpeace, a network of business professionals who helps start businesses and create jobs in conflict-torn countries.

Jacob Slaton/Clinton School of Public Service, University of Arkansas

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Little Rock, Ark.

Toni Maloney has a theory: create jobs, create peace.

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So far, Ms. Maloney, the co-founder and CEO of BPeace, has a good track record.

The New York-based nonprofit is a network of business professionals who volunteer their skills to entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Rwanda, and this year, El Salvador.

“We all operate in the belief that when people have a job, and they can provide for their families, they have hope for the future,” Maloney says. “When they have hope, they send their children to school, they can feed their families.”

A perfect example is Zarghuna, a hair stylist in Afghanistan, who has had over 4,000 clients. When Bpeace started helping Zarghuna in May 2010, she had one salon. Now she has four salons and 65 employees. She is currently in New York as an apprenticeship with the hair salon and hair products company Bumble and bumble.

Zarghuna is considered a Bpeace “Fast Runner,” an entrepreneur who has already started a business and possesses the determination to grow his or her enterprise quickly. In turn, these Fast Runners change their communities by employing people and creating stability in unstable places.

“We look for people who have been in business for a year and have five employees,” Maloney says. “They have already demonstrated their business tenacity and ability to grow. We want to make sure that the return on involvement has a good chance of success.”

To date, Fast Runners have created 1,872 jobs that support 12,859 family members.

Maloney, who has a background in advertising and business, decided after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, that business should have a role in peace building. Along with other businesswomen, she helped start Bpeace in 2002. Funding for Bpeace comes largely from fundraising, and 15 percent comes from the US State Department.

The group now has 260 volunteers. Most are based in the United States, but there are also others in Canada, Germany, El Salvador, and Pakistan.

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