Between insecurity, restrictive cultural norms and a disparate population spread across difficult terrain, Afghanistan is Hand in Hand’s most challenging operating country. Hand in Hand Afghanistan was established in 2007 when, having caught wind of our success in India, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai approached co-founder Percy Barnevik about working in the country. In keeping with Hand in Hand’s commitment to South-to-South knowledge transfer, teams from India were working with local trainers inside of a year.
Self-Help Groups are difficult to mobilize in Afghanistan, where recruiting women in particular requires patient hard work. Only after mobilizing men and building their trust over time do we engage women, typically group members’ wives, sisters and daughters. Over time, we’ve been able to build a female participation rate of 50 percent – well above the target of 35 percent for third sector programs set by the Afghan government. Our latest program targets 70 percent women.
Businesses are an important metric for Hand in Hand – especially in Afghanistan, where the clearest path to women’s employment is creating more female business owners
Hand in Hand Afghanistan entrepreneurs are mostly rural. Some engage in traditional crafts like weaving. Others farm or rear cattle, or prepare and can food for sale in local supermarkets. Whatever their occupation, each contributes to the country’s fragile post-war development.
16,409 toolkits distributed
Credit is virtually non-existent in rural Afghanistan, where Sharia and local customary law prohibit charging interest. Instead of making loans, we provide members with enterprise start-up toolkits worth an average US $100. Toolkits provide the inputs required to launch a business in nine accessible, high-margin sectors (poultry, tailoring, etc.). To qualify, members have to provide persuasive business plans and make complementary contributions towards the kits’ cost.
Hand in Hand Afghanistan works in some of the country’s most remote rural communities, where few other NGOs operate. We have operations in 10 provinces, and plans to expand into one more.
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"As an organization giving the most marginalized in society an opportunity to start a small business and raise their income, Hand in Hand is a natural partner for the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust. We have supported Hand in Hand since 2011, funding one of their programs in Afghanistan and more recently in Kenya and have been impressed with the results." Frank Welvaert | Managing Director | The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust