Our History


“ Jeff Klein, Michael Strong, John Mackey, Philomena Blees 2009 2nd Conscious Capitalism Summit at The Crossings


Origin of and Ideas behind Peace Through Commerce, Inc. and the Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Program

Peace Through Commerce (“PTC”) and Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs (“AWE”) were originally created as programs by FLOW in 2006, along with a third program called “Conscious Capitalism” (see www.consciouscapitalism.org). FLOW, or Freedom Lights Our World, is a nonprofit corporation that was co-founded in 2005 by John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market, and Michael Strong, visionary and educator to promote entrepreneurial solutions to world problems. Joining Mackey and Strong on the Board of Directors were Vidar Jorgenson, President of Grameen America, Jim Von Ehr, founder of the first nanotechnology development company Zyvex Corporation, and Susan Niederhoffer, partner in Manchester Trading and active supporter of Montessori and other independent day and boarding schools. The original team that led FLOW consisted of Michael Strong, President aka "Chief Visionary Officer", Philomena ("Phyllis") Blees, Vice President and General Counsel aka "Chief Problem Solver", and Jeff Klein, Executive Director aka "Chief Activation Officer."

It must be added that a parallel initiative for “Peace Through Commerce” was underway in the academic community. Credit goes to Dr. Carolyn Woo, then Dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, who spearheaded the initiative under the name “Peace Through Commerce” and brought it forward with her colleagues at the AACSB – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business to integrate it into their curriculum. Notre Dame has multiple vibrant initiatives which engage students in the work of “Peace Through Commerce”. See More … Dr. Timothy Fort, ethics and law professor at George Washington University and Director at GWU of the Program on Peace Through Commerce had been working on the same type of initiative under a variety of names such as “Business and Peace”, and then more consistently using that name in joint programs with the AACSB. See More … Our nonprofit collaborated extensively with this AACSB Initiative leaders from the beginning, co-facilitated the 2008 Peace Through Commerce e-conference hosted by GWU, and continue to enjoy the advice, counsel and collaboration of Dr. Fort, who is on our advisory board, and Dr. Woo and others in the movement in strategic ways.

In 2009, FLOW created two subdivisions: the AWE Alliance to lead the Peace Through Commerce/AWE programs and the Conscious Capitalism Alliance to lead that program. By the end of the year FLOW underwent a reorganization, with FLOW changing its name to Conscious Capitalism, Inc. to be led by the Conscious Capitalism Alliance. The AWE Alliance separated from FLOW to become its own free-standing, independent non-profit organization on November 9, 2010 under the name Peace Through Commerce, Inc. to carry out the PEACE THROUGH COMMERCE and AWE programs.

In January, 2009, AWE Alliance members Joyce Beck, Philomena Blees and Felora Derakhshani attended a workshop at the Esalen Institute created by Nitsan Gordon, founder of an Israeli based nonprofit organization called Beyond Words( www.beyondwords.org ). They went to support and join the Palestinian and Jewish women coming from Israeli to find ways to reduce prejudice and advance peace for themselves and their region. Since that time Beyond Words and AWE have forged a strong and mutual supportive joint partnership combining the best practices of each organization to assist the women of Beyond Words bring peace to their region. This joint venture launched the first on-the-ground program since FLOW began the programs. In it, women are given hands-on experience in living out the principles begun in FLOW and amplified with consciousness practices and business support by PEACE THROUGH COMMERCE


FLOW® was dedicated to “liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good”® and focusing it on creating sustainable peace, prosperity, and happiness for all in our lifetime. The FLOW movement combined Economic Freedom, voluntary exchange and individual initiative and enterprise from the classical liberal tradition with Love, Compassion, Social and Environmental Consciousness championed in the human potential movement to create an inspiring, integrated vision. FLOW was committed to:

  1. Cultivating human flourishing,
  2. Practicing non-violence, non-coercion, and radical tolerance.
  3. Promoting freely chosen, mutually beneficial solutions,
  4. Criticizing by creating.

The Peace Through Commerce program under FLOW illuminated the profoundly positive effects of economic freedom to promote peace and prosperity. It activated an integrated education and engagement platform appealing to young people, Baby Boomers and Cultural Creatives, and others who saw the power of entrepreneurship to address social issues, as reflected by Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, and the millions of women entrepreneurs who they are activating. As Dr. Yunus said: “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty…peace is inextricably linked to poverty. Poverty is a threat to peace.” It has carried out a series of conferences to promote and teach these ideas, and engaged people in interactive dialogue and learning.

AWE began also as a series of engagement activities and conferences. From the outset, AWE envisioned a world in which women around the globe are founding and growing substantial business enterprises--enterprises that create jobs, increase educational attainment, raise standards of living—and as a result improve the health, well-being and prosperity of people everywhere. As such, a key purpose of AWE has been to promote the cultural and educational foundations needed for women to achieve these goals. It also seeks to remove the legal obstacles faced by women around the world in their attempts to create scalable legal businesses. The goal from the beginning has been to help create, through AWE and our partners, a world where women everywhere are as free, empowered, and enabled as men in the developed world to create businesses that go beyond subsistence to grow into substantial enterprises that bring prosperity and peace to their communities. In short, AWE exists to ensure women can and will develop businesses rapidly and in great number in every nation on earth, and through those businesses will generate billions of dollars in annual revenue, millions of jobs, and a higher standard of living for their communities.

Peace Through Commerce continues to recognize the annual reports of The Economic Freedom of the World Project of The Fraser Institute, www.freetheworld.com, along with the World Bank's Doing Business Project, www.doingbusiness.org/, as among the best measures of economic freedom in the world. Peace Through Commerce aspires to create a world in which men and women around the world have access to legal systems which are as economically free as those nations ranked among the top ten in each of the two indices. Peace Through Commerce is one component of the broader vision set out by Michael Strong and his co-authors in Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World's Problems. While Peace Through Commerce is no longer a program of FLOW, we gratefully acknowledge FLOW for its commitment to the values of economic freedom and empowerment, for its leadership in envisioning Peace Through Commerce and AWE, and in skillfully bringing diverse stakeholders together to create these programs.

Since its work with Beyond Words in 2009, Peace Through Commerce has been further developing the ‘consciousness’ underpinnings of FLOW. Board member, Joyce Beck, is a 32-year psychotherapist and bio-energetics practitioner. She brings special expertise in building out the consciousness practices to complement the nonprofit’s teachings in civic leadership and the importance of entrepreneurship. In addition, Dr. Jean Houston, a leader and founder of the Human Potential Movement is guiding Peace Through Commerce in its work as a valued member of our advisory board.

With this foundation, Peace Through Commerce has created the “Matrix of Peace” which has become its primary teaching model for achieving sustainable peace globally and teaching people to become “sustainable peacemakers.” It succinctly brings together and builds upon all the key FLOW-Conscious Capitalism-PTC-AWE principles. It makes clear why “Peace is the natural result when a robust marketplace, a civil society, and consciousness intersect.”