Our work in Afghanistan

Few places on Earth are more difficult for women than Afghanistan. The country ranks 152 out of 155 on the UN Gender Equality Index, a place where only 16 percent of women work outside the home and even fewer, 6 percent, have been to secondary school.

Displacement, meanwhile, is endemic. Imagine if during the 2015-’16 migrant crisis some 50 million people, not 3 million, arrived on Europe’s shores, hungry and desperate for work. That, proportionately, is the problem facing Afghanistan, home to the world’s largest returnee crisis, with some 2.5 million displaced people expected in the country from 2016 through 2018.

Women and those displaced – and, frequently, both at once: these are Hand in Hand Afghanistan’s people. Both groups are among the country’s most disadvantaged. And although the particular challenges faced by each are different, sustainable livelihoods are always part of the solution.

Click the above tabs to find out how we train our members at considerably lower cost than other programmes – without sacrificing huge returns.

Low costs

Hand in Hand spends significantly less than comparable programmes on training each member in Afghanistan. That’s according to new research from our colleagues in the country, who polled staff and managers from six major government or NGO livelihoods projects.

Across all six programmes, the price per member trained ranged from US $361 to US $2,000, for an average of US $957. Hand in Hand spends less than one-third of that: just US $298.

But low costs have not meant sacrificing high returns (see next tab).


Return on investment

Low costs have not come at the price of high returns. Hand in Hand recently undertook a major audit of our programme in Afghanistan establish our return on investment (ROI): the amount our members earn per year for every dollar donated. The review was conducted across two of our biggest completed projects to date, one funded in-house, the other by the European Union.

Between them, total project expenditure was US S2.14 million. And the total annual income generated by our members’ enterprises in the first year alone? US $3.12 million, for an ROI of 46 percent.

To put those figures in context, consider that the S&P 500 has generated annualised returns of 9.7 percent, including dividends, since 1965. Or, to pick a more ambitious comparison, that Berkshire Hathaway’s average annual stock price gain under Warren Buffet, the world’s most successful investor, is circa 20 percent.

By the numbers

Between insecurity, treacherous geography and strict cultural norms, Afghanistan is our most challenging context – and the one that most needs our intervention

Members trained: 43,977

Our Self-Help Groups members save together, train together and start businesses together

Businesses started: 38,015

Hand in Hand Afghanistan entrepreneurs prepare food, rear cattle, weave carpets and more

Jobs created: 42,228

Jobs equal development. Our entrepreneurs make their own success, breaking the cycle of dependency

Lives improved: 283,262

Every business we help create in Afghanistan benefits an average of seven family members – young, old and everywhere in between

Your donation at work

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436 Members Trained
444 Business Supported
391 Jobs Created
62 Lives Changed

Why Afghanistan

We were invited into the country in 2007 by then-President Hamid Karzai. Since then we’ve learned a great deal about the role of jobs in vulnerable post-conflict states

Source: World Bank, 2011

36% of people live below the national poverty line

Source: World Bank, 2012

72% of children under the age of 5 suffer from nutritional deficiencies

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, 2012

93% of rural women are illiterate

Source: World Bank, 2012

84% of women don’t work

Expansion map

Hand in Hand Afghanistan has operated in 11 provinces, with plans to expand into two more. We intervene in districts that lack similar programs but benefit from relative security and support from local authorities.

Independent evaluations

Hand in Hand strives to be as transparent as possible. Download our latest independent evaluations from Afghanistan below.

Meet Hand in Hand Afghanistan Country Director Abdul Nasry

Abdul Nasry joined Hand in Hand Afghanistan in 2012 after managing the Afghan government’s National Skills Development Program, where he helped shape government policy on job creation.

Find out more