Afghan software developer builds mobile app and career

By Aziz Gulbahari and Jennifer Brookland

July 28, 2014

Gul Mohammad Akbari, a software developer in Kabul, learned to build mobile applications with support from the Afghan Workforce Development Program.

The nerve-wracking wait was finally over. High school students across Afghanistan logged on to the Ministry of Higher Education’s website to see if they had passed the national university entrance exam that would dictate their futures. So many students, in fact, that the site crashed.

When software developer Gul Mohammad Akbari heard about the problem, he wanted to do something.

“After the website went down, I started to think how I can help tens of thousands of young girls and boys who are nervous and excited to know how they did in the country’s largest university entry exam,” Akbari says.

With a freshly-completed Android Mobile Application development course under his belt, Akbari knew he had the skills to help.

He had quit his job to attend the course, which was offered by Cresco Solution and facilitated with a grant from the USAID-funded Afghanistan Workforce Development Program (AWDP.)

AWDP uses a market-driven job training model to increase job placements and wages, and intends to bring job training and support to 25,000 Afghans by 2016.

Akbari says the training he got through AWDP and Cresco allowed him to design the education application he envisioned, called “Kankor.” He also developed a web-based election management system that curates information about polling stations and voter turnout during elections.

“It was an effective training program for advancing my programming skills and it was exactly what I was looking for,” says Akbari.

Within a week, more than 1,000 users installed Kankor on their mobile devices and more than 10,000 used it to check their exam results.

Through advertising revenue, Akbari expects to recover all of the costs and continue providing Kankor for free.

As Akbari got the skills and knowledge to create these apps, he also made himself an even more valuable employee. He was hired—at a 30 percent higher salary—by Cresco Solution’s sister company, which plans to use the code Akbari created for Kankor to develop future mobile applications for students.

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