PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® graduate Zainab Mohseni started school at the age of 7, but by 13 years old she was restricted in the classes she could attend due to the patriarchal standards of Afghanistan. This did not diminish her dreams, rather, it fueled them. She began working small part-time jobs to pay for her own education and even in this, she was limited by society in which jobs she could perform. Zainab was goal oriented and her hard work paid off the day she graduated from high school. A primary education now behind her, she determined to set the bar toward higher education. Still facing societal and financial limitations, Zainab picked up small teaching jobs on the side and graduated from Kabul University where her path crossed with others who were interested in building an educational center. Zainab is now the director and fifty percent owner of New Star Educational Society (NSES), which she opened in 2008.
NSES was Zainab’s first business adventure and she wished to improve her management leadership skills, leading her to seek out the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program in Kabul, where she graduated from the 10-week, in-country training in both 2016 and 2017. During the course, Zainab was matched up with mentor Michelle Moore from Redlands Community College, El Reno, OK, whose program G.O.A.L.S helps adults with lower income obtain higher education. Zainab was offered a chance to travel to Dallas, TX for Leadership Development in 2017 but was denied a visa by the US Consulate.
Zainab’s passion is teaching English to students in destitute areas with a high priority on the education of girls. English is a relatively new language to learn in Afghanistan and therefore is not a priority in the educational system. However, Zainab feels strongly that this should change due to English being the “language of science and manufacturing.” The younger generation of Afghans are eager to learn English and most of NSEN’s students range in age from 10 to 30. NSEN helps prepare students by teaching them to read, write, and speak English proficiently. The organization can boast to teaching Fulbright Scholars and to assisting them with the paperwork needed to continue their studies abroad. In its ten years of business, NSEN has helped over 2,000 students graduate from their intermediate-upper classes.
In the spirit of paying it forward – PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS®’s third program component – Zainab participates in many organizations including the Cooperation Center for Afghanistan (CAA), Afghan Women’s Resource Center (AWRC), Women Journalists of Afghanistan, and Green Wish For Afghanistan. Zainab’s graduation from the program and continual involvement in other activities secures her position in the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Network (PTNB). The PTBN was founded in 2009, though PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® has been educating Afghan women entrepreneurs since 2007. PTNB’s mission is to connect former graduates with each other and collaborate towards better policies as well as establish other businesses. The program is backed by Ruli Ghani, the wife to the president of Afghanistan, who also hosts a graduation ceremony in her office for the women. In December 2018, Zainab was voted onto the PTB® Alumnae Council Committee for a one year term. Her personal organization’s motto is “No growth without change” and Zainab is certainly pushing toward the goal of growth. We couldn’t be more excited to watch her and her team at New Star Educational Society continue to grow and pave the way for positive change.
Written by: Sonja Sparks, 2019 IEEW Intern