AFGHANISTAN:

Empowering people, communities for positive change

Decades of war have created unique challenges for Afghanistan, which means innovative solutions are required in order for stability to take hold. Creative is successfully running initiatives that are building the capacity of Afghans to manage small and large organizations, as well as bringing their skills up to international standards. A change is happening.

 

Private sector development in Afghanistan is just emerging and its success depends on having a skilled and workforce-ready population. The Afghanistan Workforce Development Program is tapping into the country’s potential by providing mid-level workforce training and job placement tailored to the needs of the labor market.

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Kamila Sidiqi started a small dressmaking enterprise during the time of the oppressive Taliban rule. It was the only way she could support her family. The hard lessons she learned have been put to good use. Today, she has a company that provides workforce skills training to other women so they too can realize their potential and create economic security for themselves and their families. Kamila is also participating in Creative’s Afghanistan Workforce Development Program.

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Kamila Sidiqi

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When Kamila Sidiqi started her company in 2005, she was an exception in Afghanistan: an educated woman and an entrepreneur. Few women at that time had access to education – only 18 percent of women were literate – and even fewer were able to start a business.

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Clink, clink, clink, clink was the repetitive sound that echoed in the courtyard as two men picked away at the stones positioned on the ground in front of them.

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Afghan man working in masonry.

 Developing a skilled workforce in Afghanistan

 

When Ahmad Zia Monsef first joined Afghan Wireless Communications Co. (AWCC) in 2004, he was hired as an entry-level call center agent. Joining a handful of others for six hour shifts in a dark room lined with computers, Monsef would don his headset and answer calls from customers – solving problems from billing errors to cell phone malfunctions.

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Sometimes when business owner Kamila Sidiqi shows up to a meeting, she is the only woman in attendance. She knows it makes the men uncomfortable. But for her the solution is clear: companies need to hire and promote more women.

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Kamila Sidiqi

Afghan Women Training Session

 

I met a young woman in Kabul whose story I want to share. We were in the lobby of the prestigious private high school where she taught. It was a hot afternoon in September, yet she wore a floor-length black dress and light blue headscarf wrapped closely around her face, not even a strand of hair peeking through. Only her chubby cheeks, excited smile and eyes outlined in deep blue eyeliner showed through.

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I stared intently out the car window, trying to understand this new place I spent the last two days traveling to: Kabul. I watched construction workers sweating in the morning sun, kicking up dust with every step, and kids playing tag on a side street. I won’t lie, my heart raced a bit when I heard a helicopter zoom across the sky above us.

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Maggie Farrand in Afghanistan

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