ARZU, which means "hope" in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that empowers Afghan women by providing fair-labor, artisan-based employment and access to education and healthcare. Founded in 2004 by businesswoman Connie K. Duckworth, ARZU creates jobs in desperately poor rural villages in Afghanistan, where little opportunity exists. From a starting point of only 30 carpet weavers, ARZU has created over 1,300 private sector jobs, providing direct social benefits to beneficiaries in seven rural villages in Bamyan and Faryab Provinces. The ripple effect of ARZU’s work today impacts the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans.
ARZU is an example of the new “for-benefit” corporation model, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that uses private sector practices to create jobs and produce high quality products for export in rural villages. Proceeds from the sales of ARZU’s flagship products: ARZU STUDIO HOPE rugs (www.arzustudiohope.org) and Peace Cord™ bracelets (www.peacecord.org) directly benefit the Afghan communities in which ARZU works.