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From Goldman Sachs to Kabul

Posted by: Helen Walters on May 19, 2007

One of the most inspirational speeches from IIT’s Strategy Conference was the low-key presentation from Connie Duckworth. A former partner and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, she seemingly stumbled into her new business, which supports and sells rugs woven by women in Afghan villages. Think you know all about the Bottom of the Pyramid? This is in its cellar. Connie’s solutions are providing a template for post-conflict (post-conflict??) reconstruction and NGOs are watching with interest. But as Duckworth pointed out in her talk, the larger problems are insoluble without buy-in from the private sector. The simple changes she described that as a result of her company’s activities have had a monumental effect: Putting money for rugs into the hands of the women is forcing a recalibration of women’s position in society. I’m always wary of strangers wading into a society and dictating the way that it should run, but these are basic human rights, and Duckworth is no fool; she’s working the system brilliantly. Check out her site: Arzu Rugs

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What comes next? The BusinessWeek Innovation and Design team of Michael Arndt and Helen Walters chronicle new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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