Social entrepreneur Connie K. Duckworth founded ARZU, which means “hope” in Dari, in 2004 to empower destitute women weavers in rural Afghanistan and serves pro bono as Chairman and CEO. Starting with 30 weavers, ARZU has transformed into a learning laboratory for holistic grassroots economic development -- today employing some 700 women, providing literacy and basic healthcare, piloting micro-business start-ups, building playgrounds, pre-schools and parks, and creating award-winning fair-labour rugs for sale to collectors and connoisseurs -- in a country ranked as “the world’s worst place to be a woman.”
Ms. Duckworth retired in 2001 as a partner and managing director of Goldman Sachs, the first woman sales and trading partner in the firm’s history. For the past decade, she has applied her business lens in many roles as corporate director, non-profit leader, philanthropist, activist, published author, angel-investor, and blogger. She is the mother of four and happily married for 26 years.