Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Want to Promote Peace? Try a Little Chocolate. ; Marketing and War Games Are All Part of Graduate Students' Training in Modern-Day Diplomacy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Want to Promote Peace? Try a Little Chocolate. ; Marketing and War Games Are All Part of Graduate Students' Training in Modern-Day Diplomacy

Article excerpt

Can cooperation and peace be achieved through marketing a dried- fruit product?

That's the question a group of graduate students in diplomacy and international business recently took on.

Mixing capitalism with altruism might not be a concern for most business executives - but it's a key issue to PeaceWorks, a company that works to create cooperative business ventures among rivals in war-torn areas. And for fresh ideas, it turned to students at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Mass.

"If you're only concerned about making money, you run the danger that important things in life don't get done," says PeaceWorks founder Daniel Lubetzky. He and publicity director Melanie Garson, a Fletcher graduate, felt the school had a unique expertise in business and international affairs with which to tackle the project.

Working with the United Nations, the company is hoping to market dried fruit from Guatemala, which is recovering from a 35-year civil war and faces many economic problems, including severe poverty. The dried-fruit business would be a cooperative effort among former rival Mayan farmers, and would impact some 2,880 families.

Help is right next door

Founded six years ago, PeaceWorks got its start in response to an Israeli foodmaker that was losing money because it imported supplies from far away, rather than work with nearby Arab suppliers.

The organization has developed products like WAFA, a hazelnut chocolate bar created by an Israeli-Arab partnership, and La Bici pasta chips from KwaZulu-Natal, one of South Africa's most troubled regions.

Fletcher graduate students, working in four teams under associate professor Bernard Simonin, took on the marketing challenge as a semester-long project.

"There is an element of altruism and a greater cause that drives all of our students," Mr. Simonin says. "We had a chance to show them how to leverage that passion so that they could have an impact. The learning is much more powerful as a result."

Eric Davis, a member of the apple marketing team, said his team's challenge was raising awareness among Americans of the Guatemalan civil war.

His team suggested launching a Web site that would help people become better informed. …

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