Business On The Frontlines


Our Impact

Learning how to better rebuild societies damaged by war is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Doing so with a good heart and a focus on the inherent dignity of our fellow man is the best place to start. The vision for Business on the Frontlines is to become the foremost forum for all organizations, no matter how diverse, to work together to rebuild societies after war and help prevent their reversion to conflict.

BOTFL examines the impact of business in post-conflict settings. Not limited to multi-disciplinary course work in the classroom, graduate students and faculty from across the University of Notre Dame – including the Mendoza College of Business, the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies, the Law School, and the College of Science - work directly on business and peace-related projects with partners in the field, primarily international humanitarian organizations. Many BOTFL projects focus on agriculture, infrastructure and mining, as these economic sectors can frequently absorb large numbers of unskilled young men after conflict. Our projects have also extended to micro-finance, youth unemployment, post-civil war reconciliation, business incubators, health and nutrition, human trafficking, child prostitution, and disaster preparedness. Over the last eight years, BOTFL teams have worked on nearly thirty such projects in nearly twenty countries: Bosnia, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Cambodia, Mindanao in the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and Sri Lanka. By the estimates of one of our partners, thousands of young men now have livelihoods that would not have had opportunities had it not been for our work in the field.

BOTFL has expanded our partnerships to include not only international NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps and World Vision, but also multi-national corporations like Accenture, Newmont Mining, General Electric. We have also partnered with the US Army Special Operations Command around training and joint problem solving regarding conflict prevention in the field. Multi-national corporations, humanitarian organizations, and the armed forces all have a clear stake in peace and long-term stability.

Fresh graves in Srebrenica, Bosnia. Photo by Keith Flatley

What is also clear is that there exists a rich possibility for research and service around BOTFL. Imagine the bi-annual major conference dedicated to conflict prevention that enables senior business executives to discuss such matters with senior military leaders and leaders of humanitarian organizations. Imagine the research that may be possible around which interventions in business, economics, and institutions may actually increase the probability of long term stability. Imagine the research that might be possible to use the rapid collapse or expansion of businesses or entire economic sectors as leading indicators of the threats to stability, but could then be used to support initiatives for preventing societies from tipping back into conflict.

The challenge may be great; the road to travel may be far. Nevertheless, never underestimate the human dignity associated with a good day’s work, particularly for those who have come through conflict.

June 1, 2016