Better skills and firms with financial training

By Michael Zamba

July 29, 2013

Mid level professionals spend a month learning practical financial skills like QuickBook and record-keeping at the Higher Education Institute of Karwan.

Ahmad Milad Amiri is adapting to his country’s rapidly changing business and employment landscape. Although his post as a Finance Officer at Afghanistan Faiz Satellite Telecommunication (AFST) was good, Ahmad knew he could do better. So did AFST.

An intensive financial management program at the Higher Education Institute of Karwan (HEIK) gave Amiri, as well as the seven-year-old internet and IT firm, the chance to prove it.

HEIK and Strategic Social are collaborating to implement one of 25 grants from USAID’s Afghanistan Workforce Development Program (AWDP), to provide mid-level professionals like Amiri with the skills that private sector employers have defined as critical—a unique approach for the country and companies.

The month-long course focuses on practical financial skills, including how to use QuickBooks, essential record keeping and accurately estimating taxes. To date, 146 professionals like Amiri have completed HEIK’s financial management course.

“At [the] university, we only learn theories and have no idea how to put them into action,” says Amiri. “This was the first time in my career for me to experience such good, practical training.”

Sayed Abdul Shukoor Rohani, HEIK’s General Coordinator, sees the need and urgency by both employees and their companies for practical, demand-driven training.

“The modern private sector is relatively new to Afghanistan, and many companies do not know how to estimate taxes, prepare financial reports and meet the needs of the new tax laws,” he says.

Professionals with practical skills are seeing benefits. Indeed, 119 of the 146 graduates were promoted as a result of the training, reports HEIK and Strategic Social, which is another program implementer.

In addition to individual advancement, Sayed says the skills are essential to creating efficient companies and a contemporary economy. “Finance is the mother of all departments in an organization,” he says.

For Amiri, that comment is not an exaggeration; it is reality. “After I completed the training program, I suggested three schemes to improve finance management at my company,” the 20-year-old Amiri says. “These were welcomed. [AFST] then expanded my responsibilities, title and increased my salary by 20 percent.”

This success story was recently featured on the USAID Afghanistan website.

With reporting by Aziz Gulbahari

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