The nation of Afghanistan is coming out of a long period of conflict and oppression that began with the Taliban takeover of the country after the Soviet Union withdrew. An ongoing insurgency just adds to the problems of promoting education and economic development.
The country’s efforts to build a stable economy and society continue, with much help from outside businesses, governments, nonprofits, and the United Nations of course. This post and several more focus on the use of business to promote economic development and education in Afghanistan.
First, I feel compelled to offer a few statistics that illustrate the state of the country today. These statistics will give a better sense of how far Afghanistan can go, and some of them will be referenced again and again in this blog.
Literacy Rate = 13% (among women; higher among men)
Unemployment Rate = 35% in 2009
Poverty Rate = 36% in 2009
Population = about 30,400,000 in 2012, give or take a few hundred thousand
Mobile Phones = 5.4 million in 2008
Trends are important to understand, so I will revisit these stats in future posts, to provide a sense of where the country is going, for better or worse.
The country does have many schools, including some colleges and universities. The American University of Afghanistan is the newest. Building schools with modern facilities should be an ongoing priority. That’s probably a suggestion any development expert would agree with regarding development in any poor country. The exact model to use for these schools might not be the same everywhere, but the same issue of funding these schools remains.
Advertising and marketing work in business by generating revenue that can pay the bills and fund future expansion. Various business tactics could be used to fund education in Afghanistan as well. Advertising presented to patrons of internet cafes, to people in university computer labs, or to mobile phone users could generate revenue to fund school construction, school reconstruction, and other economic development initiatives.
Economic development assistance and aid for education are coming from the United Nations and from some western NGOs. Businesses are trying various models to promote economic development and create education opportunities. The Film Annex is funding an Afghanistan Development Initiative that has a long-term goal of providing Web-connected classrooms for 160,000.
Future posts will have more information on that effort, and other projects aimed at using business and social media to provide the funds for schools, businesses, and innovation inside Afghanistan.