From carpet weaver to CEO

Masooma Habibi wove carpets. Now she heads an electrical-engineering company. Andeisha Farid grew up in refugee camps. Today her nonprofit group educates orphans and refugee children. Stories like these may hold the key to stabilizing Afghanistan and improving its economy.

That’s where Project Artemis comes in. Run by an Arizona-based international business school, the program sharpens the business skills of Afghan women entrepreneurs.  “Afghan women can do business, can travel alone, can walk beside everyone else and raise their voices,” says Artemis alumna Geeti Aryanpur, who holds a full-time job, studies medicine and runs a small business on the side.

Participants complete two weeks of study on campus, then return home to found or expand their companies. Program mentors provide two additional years of advice and support. Project Artemis graduates run diverse businesses that, among other things, weave silk and wool, produce saffron and run modern fashion boutiques.

Project Artemis particpants prepare for business challenges. (© AP Images)

Other programs — such as 10,000 Women, supported by the U.S. Department of State — similarly mentor women in Afghanistan and other countries and help with business education, networking and access to capital.

Experts report a multiplier effect, as women are prone to mentor other women.