Make Business, Not War
|Daniel Lubetzky has his own take on the Israel-Palestine conflict - one you'll rarely see on the evening news. "The violence in the Middle East is perpetrated by a very small number of extremists on both sides," he says, and the media actually are empowering these minorities by focusing so heavily on them. "The vast majority of people there disapprove of violence and want to live in peace," says Lubetzky. He should know: Lubetzky has made it his business, literally, to help "enemies" work together. He is the founder of PeaceWorks, an innovative, "not-only-for-profit" company based in New York City that fosters business partnerships between groups in conflict and then markets their food products. The company has joined Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs; black and white residents of post-apartheid South Africa; Christians and Muslims in Indonesia; and other ethnic and cultural groups whose relations have been marked by persistent and often violent conflict. With help from PeaceWorks, these groups cooperate in culinary business ventures that turn a profit while fostering peace and understanding.|
|THE STRATEGY: Developed a business model using smallscale producers and manufacturers from opposing political, religious, and/or ethnic groups with an ultimate goal of developing wholesome saleable products and cultural understanding and tolerance.
WHAT WORKS: (1) PeaceWorks founder Lubetzky has to fall in love with a potential food product and see the potential for it to stand out. In addition, the manufacturers must be wholly committed to using their business to foster respectful relations among people of different backgrounds. (2) After a manufacturer becomes a PeaceWorks "trading partner," Lubetzky and his staff of twelve help find ways in which the business can support coexistence in the region. To appeal to multiple markets, PeaceWorks also encourages partners to make products all-natural, organic, kosher, and halal (the Muslim equivalent of kosher). Then PeaceWorks explores the market for at least six months. (3) Finally, PeaceWorks imports and warehouses the product. They make presentations throughout North and South America to get it into as many stores as possible. It can take six to twelve months from the handshake before a partner's product reaches retail stores, but PeaceWorks does all of this initial work pro bono. (4) PeaceWorks remains in a facilitator role, which changes with the maturation of the partnering entities. (5) PeaceWorks creates small entrepreneur businesses and employment opportunities in both conflict areas and third world countries. (6) PeaceWorks initiated a parallel organization of networks of "ordinary" people from communal conflict areas who were moderate in their political beliefs and wanted to find ways to live together peacefully.
IMPORTANT POINTS: Perhaps part of Lubetzky's desire to help bridge conflicting cultures comes from his mixed ethnic background. "My father is a Holocaust survivor, and he always stressed the importance of preventing future holocausts," he says. "My mother is Mexican and Jewish, and she has lived in mixed communities, as well as an all-Jewish community that didn't interact much with the outside world. She taught me that it's important to build friendships with people who are different from you." While growing up in Mexico and after moving to the U.S. at age fifteen, Lubetzky placed a priority on bringing people together. "I call PeaceWorks a 'not-only-for-profit' company because, yes, we're about making money, but we're always about building relationships," he says.
|Setting:||Developed World, Semi-Developed, Third World, Urban|
|Extent of Action:||International|
|Issues:||Peace/Conflict Resolution, Resources|
|Source:||Hope Magazine, Nov./Dec. 2002, Issue No. 34|
|PeaceWorks, P.O. Box 1587, New York, NY 10156, 888-732-2396, www.peaceworks.com, and PeaceWorks Network, www.silentnolonger.com, and Tracy Fernandez Rysavy (Co-op America) at email@example.com, and www.coopamerica.org|
|Prepared By:||sl, 4/06|