Written by Dr. Terry Neese Tuesday, September 04 2012
Known as a national and international small business expert and advocate, Dr. Terry Neese is founder and CEO of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). She is a member of the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, past national president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and founder of Terry Neese Personnel Services. She was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the “Power 30” — the most influential small businesspersons in Washington, D.C.
Neese made history in 1990 when she became the first woman nominated by a major political party for the seat of Lt. Governor of Oklahoma. She has been appointed to numerous councils and positions with nominations by prominent leaders, such as Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Here is her latest update on an innovative IEEW entrepreneurial training program that recently brought Afghan and Rwandan women face to face with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Working toward a dream. This is the goal for so many women in this country. And this is the goal for women all across the globe – especially those struggling to create something for themselves in developing nations.
Freshta Hazeq understands this dream. A mother of three, she is the proud owner of Afghanistan’s only female-run printing and media production business, Royal Advertising Co.
“My business means to so much to me,” she explained. “It allows me to be my own boss and help determine the course of my future and my family’s future, against all odds.”
Hazeq has faced incredible opposition in operating her company, which has three locations in the Kabul area. Male employees were bribed to do their projects incorrectly to sabotage her business, and she has received anonymous calls to her company telling her that she has no place being in business in a male-oriented field.
“I have to work three times as hard as the men in our profession who have their own companies, but my clients realize that I can do the job better and more efficiently,” Hazeq said.
Thanks to the support of her husband and her own perseverance, Hazeq is one of the 60 women to recently complete the IEEW’s Peace Through Business® (PTB) program. For six years, this program has provided training to help brave and bold women entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Afghanistan achieve their dreams of entrepreneurship.
Hazeq offers, “Being in the IEEW program has made me realize how important my role is in my community and my country as a female entrepreneur and how I can really help shape my future and that of other women who are in business for themselves.”
We just hosted 24 of our new graduates here in the United States in July, where they experienced everything from one-on-on mentoring with U.S. businesswomen and men in their different fields to intensive classroom training at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas to a women’s economic conference in Washington, D.C. that culminated with us having an amazing private meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Treaty Room of the State Department. Our PTB graduates emerged from the program as change agents, ready to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship.
“I want to be able to pay forward my knowledge to other women in my country, to help them also become empowered in their communities,” Hazeq says.
A similar sentiment is echoed by Rwanda’s Faith Kamukama, who owns Taste Foods Restaurant, located in the busy Remera section of Kigali. She opened the restaurant and catering company, which operates 24 hours a day, in 2010.
Kamukama lost her father in an accident in 1990. Just 16 at the time, she took on the financial responsibility of her education and began sewing mats and selling them at a local market to earn money to help support her family. She went on to college with the help of a government sponsorship and received a degree in social sciences.
“I wanted to be my own boss and have my independence – no matter how difficult this would be to attain,” Kamukama says. “Going through the PTB program showed me that I am not alone in my struggles as a woman in business; I have sisters across the world who have [many] more struggles. It gave me knowledge and confidence to further develop my business, increase my earnings and bring in more satisfied customers.”
These are just two of the wonderful and brave women who embody our PTB program. We wish them all continued success in their ventures. They are an inspiration to women business owners everywhere.
The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW), started in 2006, is an Oklahoma City-based 501(c)3 with a mission to empower women to grow their businesses, pursue greater entrepreneurial ventures and become more active public policy advocates. The Institute accomplishes this mission by focusing on education, mentorship and coaching women in the United States and abroad who are seeking to acquire entrepreneurial skills to help start and grow a business. The IEEW works with a network of mentors, corporate sponsors and private donors across the United States to accomplish its work.
More on women's global economic empowerment:
Realizing that there was a serious lack of opportunity for Rwandan women to further their education, Elizabeth Dearborn Davis co-founded the Akilah Institute for Women, which provides leadership and career training.
Francine LeFrak's nonprofit Same Sky operates under the philosophy of "trade, not aid" and gives HIV-positive women in Africa an opportunity gain entrepreneurial skills by crafting high-quality jewelry.
The Third Billion Campaign sponsored by La Pietra Coalition aims to form an alliance among corporations, governments and nonprofits to focus on the economic empowerment of women in developing nations.