An update on Hand in Hand’s operations in Afghanistan

As you will know, the de-facto authorities banned women from working in NGOs on 24 December. In response to the ban, Hand in Hand Afghanistan, alongside other national and international NGOs, temporarily paused operations, working with Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR) and the UN to call for the ban to be reversed.

Over the last year, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has become more severe, with the World Food Programme (WFP) estimating acute malnutrition is above emergency thresholds in 25 out of 34 provinces, and almost half of children under 5 requiring life-saving nutrition support in the next 12 months. To meet the staggering levels of need, Hand in Hand, like the majority of NGOs operating in Afghanistan, is seeking practical concessions to enable us to continue delivering vital development and humanitarian assistance to women, men and their families, for example via sectoral exceptions.

Hand in Hand Afghanistan has over 12 years experience working with vulnerable communities in some of the most remote regions of the country. Through these longstanding links we have been able to find local solutions that allow us to directly reach women and men with livelihoods training and, increasingly, vital humanitarian aid, while protecting the safety of our staff and the people we support.


Visa and Hand in Hand’s entrepreneur training communities boosts incomes in Nairobi’s most deprived communities


Visa and Hand in Hand’s entrepreneur training communities boosts incomes in Nairobi’s most deprived communities: Kenya Micro-Enterprise Success Programme, Endline report by 60DB
Members saw an average income uplift of USD $156 per month
Hand in Hand’s Kenya Micro-Enterprise Success Programme (KMES) project, funded by Visa Inc., has resulted in entrepreneurs typically increasing their incomes by USD $156 per month, according to a report by 60DB.
The project is the first of its kind to target existing small business owners as well as first-time entrepreneurs. Delivered in Nairobi’s informal settlements, which the UN describes as “some of the most dense, unsanitary and insecure slums in the world,” the project aimed to boost local economies, create jobs, and lift families out of poverty.
The three-year programme provided 8,200 start-up entrepreneurs (6,560 of them women) living below the poverty line with the core business training they needed to start their own micro enterprises. It also provided advanced training to 1,600 people (1,280 of them women) who already owned and operated small businesses in the area, as part of its ‘accelerator’ cohort.
The report found:
– Members are now more resilient, and report improved ability to meet financial needs, with 91% and 94% of start-up and accelerator members respectively able to come up with the funds to cover an emergency.
– Start-up members increased their profitability by an average of 15%, earning an additional USD $150 a month. Accelerator members boosted their businesses’ profits by an average of 95%, earning an additional USD $192 a month.

– Women in both cohorts are now more involved in joint decision-making with their spouses. 54% of women in the start-up cohort and 56% of women in the accelerator cohort make joint decisions with their spouse when it comes to matters regarding health, visiting friends and family and large purchases.
– Members continue to see changes in their quality of life a year after the Hand in Hand training. 97% of start-up members and 95% of accelerator members say their quality of life has improved because of the Hand in Hand training still a year later.

Download the report

Behind the headlines in Afghanistan with Dr. Kamran Hekmati, Director of Programmes, Hand in Hand Afghanistan

Dr. Kamran Hekmati,
Director of Programmes, Hand in Hand Afghanistan


How has life changed in Mazar-i-Sharif since the Taliban arrived?

At first everyone was frightened and everything closed. But then, life carries on. The shops, markets and businesses, private schools and private universities reopened. For us in Mazar life is OK but it varies across the country. 

 What’s life like for women?

It is more difficult for women now. If we want to employ a woman we have to get special permission to do so and the working conditions are governed by strict rules limiting their interaction with men and their travel, unless accompanied by a male member of the family.  

Are you and the team able to travel freely – especially to visit our members?

Now the Taliban have given us our license, we can operate almost normally.  

In some ways things, especially travel, are easier. Now the Taliban are in control the armed roadside checkpoints have gone. 

The new regime has actually opened up the countryside. For example in Chimtal district, just south of Mazar, previously it was only safe for us to operate in the 10 government controlled villages – the other 70 were ‘no go’ areas under Taliban control. Now the Taliban control the whole area we can go to all 80 villages. All we need is the funding to do so. 

What about the economy? 

You used not to see many people begging on the streets, but now you do.   

So many people have lost their jobs – the 350,000 employed by the army are now unemployed. Although the private businesses, schools etc are open, the government operations are not. And, everything is smaller because no one has any money to spend. 

But, what about the rural economy in northern Afghanistan, where you are? 

The farmers aren’t affected by what’s happening in the cities. They rely on the land, livestock and weather for food and living.  

They are much more worried about how they and their families will survive the winter – the drought meant the wheat and barley died in the fields this summer, as did much of the livestock. 

Everywhere families are hungry.  

What are we doing to help our members as famine looms this winter? 

People are so hungry they cannot join our programmes until they have had something to eat, so we give every member a food package. 


Hand in Hand at European events

Hand in Hand CEO Josefine Lindänge and Programme Finance Manager Peter Munyua took to the stage at two different events in November: the European Microfinance Week and the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) annual conferences. Take a look at Josefine’s presentation.

Josefine Lindänge joined forces with Frederik Jan ven dan Bosch, Manager of Micro and Small Enterprise Finance at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to present our shared experiences providing credit to and developing agri-businesses for small-holder farmers at European Microfinance Week  in Luxembourg on Friday 14 November.

Peter Munyua explained how our Enterprise Incubation Fund prioritizes societal impact and provides financial returns for venture philanthropists at the EVPA in Berlin on Tuesday 18 November.

Take a look at Peter’s presentation.

Why the public, private and third sectors need to work together

In a recent article for Bond’s Networker magazine Josefine Lindange, CEO Hand in Hand International, explains how, to be effective in the fight against poverty, we must work together.

“There is now a growing recognition that development cannot take place without jobs…However, job creation is a complex task and in order to meet that challenge we need to simplify and unify our approach – cut across boundaries and vested interests to bring together the resources available to focus on job creation. What does this mean for the key stakeholders – private sector, governments, and NGOs? “