Skoll Foundation

 

Arzu

Skoll Awardee(s): Connie K. Duckworth
Award Year: 2008
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Economic Opportunity, Education, Health

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“Economically empowering women, so often kept in the cellar of the wealth pyramid, is critical to the world’s future prosperity and possibilities for peace.”

Sub-Issues: Early Childhood to Primary Education, Livelihoods, Health Delivery An entire generation of Afghan women suffers the effects of war and cultural and institutional misogyny, affecting the lives of their families and undermining the stability of their communities. This is reflected in dismal statistics, such as the world’s lowest female literacy rate and the second-highest maternal mortality rate.

The Skoll Awardee: Connie Duckworth made history as the first female sales and trading partner at Goldman, Sachs & Company. She has been sharing her business acumen to help other women for more than 25 years. She has authored a primer on entrepreneurship for women; chaired the Committee of 200, the national organization of pre-eminent businesswomen, and served on the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. In that role, she met dozens of desperate mothers living in a bombed out building with no windows, heat, furniture, sanitation or water with their children. On the plane home she outlined the vision for Arzu. She had no experience with international development, but she did know how to start and run a successful business. She provided seed capital for the first year of operations and continues to oversee Arzu’s operations.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2008:

  • Created more than 700 jobs providing income and social benefits.
  • Constructed two women’s centers, a community center, a park, a community garden, and three preschools in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan.
  • Launched a second product line of handmade corded bracelets to provide additional employment opportunities.
  • Piloted the Superadobe construction method as a solution to the housing crisis in Bamyan.

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