Skoll Foundation


Posts Tagged ‘Arzu’

ARZU’s Work Featured on Al Jazeera America

December 30, 2013 by

The Afghan women used to sign their names with a thumbprint. Now, they can read and write—and their signatures are, of course, written. “What we’ve done, how we transformed their lives, it’s inspirational,” says Angela Attento, creative director of ARZU, in a story that recently aired on Al Jazeera America. Watch the rest, above.


Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenges Raises $2.23 million; Pratham USA is Winner

November 22, 2013 by

The Skoll Foundation would like to congratulate our Social Entrepreneurs Challenge  participants for raising $2,230,774 (which includes $75,942 offline donations). On Sept. 30, the Skoll Foundation, in partnership with The Huffington Post and Crowdrise, launched its first crowdfunding challenge designed to provide some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs with an innovative platform to raise funds.

We are pleased to announce the Grand Prize Winners of the Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneurs Challenge:

• 1st Place: Pratham USA with $379,632 raised

• 2nd Place: OneVoice with $319,829 raised

• 3rd Place: Center For Digital Inclusion with $277,945 raised

• 4th Place: Arzu with $192,428 raised

• 5th Place: Saude Crianca with $134,426 raised

The “Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge,” hosted on Edward Norton’s platform CrowdRise, included $250,000 in dedicated prize money for daily and weekly challenges and up to $1 million in matching funds which was shared by all participants as fundraising thresholds were reached.

“We are thankful and thrilled, as this Challenge blew past our goal,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “It gave individual donors the opportunity to support high-impact Skoll social entrepreneurs around the world through a healthy dose of competition that rewarded all participants. One of the unique elements of the Skoll Challenge was deep community, with all of the organizations working together to reach the $2 million stretch goal to unlock the full $1 million match from the Skoll Foundation. Small and big, every gift counted.”


International Women’s Day: Letters from our Awardees

March 8, 2013 by

Many Skoll awardees work with women and girls, so we thought we’d share some of their public letters and videos today, International Women’s Day. Above, you can see Tostan’s video from Women’s Day last year, and they will soon post their new one from today.

From Ann Cotton, Camfed:

“Government legislation in Malawi protects the right of child mothers to return to education. Nabena is now one of the 33 child mothers in the Chikhwawa District going back to school this year with Camfed’s support. We are working in a further 16 districts, guaranteeing all costs for these girls and thousands more through the duration of their secondary school education…On this International Women’s Day, let’s work together to ensure that girls do not carry the responsibilities of womanhood too soon, but grow up through a childhood filled with the educational opportunity that is the right of every child.” Read the rest: and read her post on Skoll World Forum:

Arzu posted this video:

Last, but not least, is Melinda Gates’ message on our very own Skoll World Forum site:


Arzu’s Success Story Featured

July 13, 2012 by

Skoll Awardee Connie Duckworth is featured in a story about two women who are making a difference for women in Afghanistan. An excerpt from the piece, in a military publication called DVIDS:

“‘There were dozens of women and children living in this bombed-out building,’ she said. ‘No windows, no heat, no electricity, no running water, no food, no furniture – trying to live through the winter. I looked at the children’s faces and thought, those could be my children. I literally went back on the plane and thought, I am doing something.’

What she did was start a grass-roots level NGO that she named Arzu Studio Hope. Inspired by the Dari word for ‘hope,’ it employs women to weave traditional Afghan rugs while providing their families with education, health, and social opportunities.

‘Connie has brought to Arzu everything she learned in her first career in business, from distribution, production and quality control, to branding and marketing,’ said Bertenthal. ‘From a starting point in 2004 of only 30 weavers, Arzu now provides employment for over 1,300 Afghans – 95 percent of whom are women.'”

Read more:


Good Magazine Features Arzu’s Connie Duckworth

February 6, 2012 by

It’s been 10 years since wear began in Afghanistan, and Good magazine interviewed Skoll Awardee Connie Duckworth of Arzu about her work with women. An excerpt:

“Duckworth ticks off ARZU’s other accomplishments like items on a grocery list. The group has created 1,000 jobs and avoided the security risks of putting foreign nationals on the ground by training an all-Afghan staff to carry out local operations. ARZU has figured out how to heat its workshops by burning briquettes made from shredded paper discarded by the U.S. Embassy instead of contributing to Afghanistan’s deforestation problem—they even sell leftover briquettes to local government offices. Digital collaborations between American and Afghan designers have produced carpet patterns that appeal to a wide variety of tastes while preserving traditional techniques.

This success hasn’t gone unnoticed. ARZU’s model won the 2008 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and was recognized by the Edison Awards last year for best new product in the lifestyle and social impact category. Now Duckworth is hoping to turn ARZU’s $10 to $15 “peace cord”—a wristband woven from military parachute fabric—into the next Livestrong bracelet.”

See more photos and read more:


9/11 widow helps Afghan widows

September 9, 2011 by

Susan Retik, who was widowed on 9/11, gives money to help widows in Afghanistan through organizations such as Skoll Awardee Arzu, which sells rugs and bracelets. Her story was just featured on CBS News. An excerpt:

“‘I remember thinking, if it was so terrible to be a woman, oh my gosh, what happens when they’re widowed? How do they survive? I remember thinking maybe I could help one woman and her family, the way so many people helped me.’ read more


ARZU STUDIO HOPE Honored for Improving the Environment and Humanity Though Design

February 17, 2011 by

ASID honors ARZU STUDIO HOPE as a 2011 National Award Winner

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) selected ARZU STUDIO HOPE as an inaugural recipient of the 2011 Nancy Vincent McClelland Merit Award. ARZU is being honored as an organization that has “significantly contributed to improving the environment for humanity through design-related activities or projects, oriented toward affecting the global human environment and benefiting the community at large.” Winners will be recognized during ASID@NeoCon, an awards ceremony in Chicago on June 13, 2011.

View press release announcement of 2011 ASID National Winners

Read more about ARZU’s positive impact on the global community


Nice Cross-Fertilization of Skoll Social Entrepreneurs

January 20, 2010 by

Arzu Studio Hope, founded by 2008 Skoll social entrepreneur Connie Duckworth, is leveraging its program to help another Skoll social entrepreneur, Paul Farmer, with his work with Partners in Health in Haiti. Arzu, which helps break the cycle of poverty in Afghanistan through its program to link Afghan rug sales in the developed world to education and development activities in Afghanistan, will donate 25 percent of each Arzu rug purchased through January to Partners of Health. It’s great to see a social entrepreneur with an income component in its program using that lever to help fund another social entrepreneur.


Skoll Social Entrepreneurs in “Half the Sky”

October 2, 2009 by

I read Nick Kristof’s book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, last week, but haven’t had a chance to blog about it.  The Oprah Show yesterday, which focused on women’s and girls’ issues and featured Nick and his wife and co-author, Sheryl WuDunn, reminded me.  One of the women profiled on the show was Saima Muhammad, a Pakistani who has changed her life thanks to a microloan from the Kashf Foundation, founded by 2007 Skoll social entrepreneur Roshaneh Zafar. Saima’s story – from starting a small business solo to now hiring staff to fill orders – is a great example of the power of microfinance.

Roshaneh is one of several Skoll social entrepreneurs featured in “Half the Sky.”  2005 Skoll social entrepreneur Ann Cotton of Camfed, who’s helped hundreds of thousands of African girls receive an education, also is in the book.  The authors write about 2006 Skoll award recipient Sakena Yacoobi’s work with Afghan Institute of Learning on educating women and girls in Afghanistan under very difficult circumstances.  Soraya Salti, who heads up INJAZ al-Arab, which provides entrepreneurship and life skills training in the Middle East, is also mentioned in the book. Other Skoll social entrepreneurial organizations cited in the book whose work has significant impact on women in the developing world include Kiva and Barefoot College (Paul Farmer, a 2008 Skoll award winner and co-founder of Partners in Health, also is referenced several times).

Skoll works with a number of other social entrepreneurs making a big impact on women and girls empowerment.  Visayan Forum Foundation is fighting trafficking in women and girls in the Philippines.  GoodWeave (formerly Rugmark) and Arzu are working to eliminate unfair practices and tough working conditions, many affecting women and girls, in the carpet-weaving industry.  mothers2mothers works on maternal health and combatting pediatric AIDS transmission.  Many other social entrepreneurs we support also do work that has disproportianate benefits for women.

The role of women and girls in development is clearly gaining steam.  It was a big focus at the Clinton Global Initiative this year.  The Kristof/WuDunn book will move the conversation forward.  We’re happy to be working with some of the best leaders in the field.


Skoll Foundation Adds Eleven Pioneering Organizations to its Global Portfolio of Leading Social Entrepreneurs

March 11, 2008 by

PALO ALTO, Calif.—March 11, 2008—The Skoll Foundation today announced Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship for 11 organizations working around the world in the areas of tolerance and human rights, health, environmental sustainability, peace and security, and economic and social equity. The recipients, who will each receive three-year grants of $1,000,000, join a growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions  for tackling the world’s most urgent social and economic challenges. read more


© 2015 Skoll Foundation.