As an Impact Partner of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, The Coca-Cola Company believes young people have an indispensable role in shaping their local communities, countries and world.

This exclusive series highlights semifinalist Global Shaper projects competing to win five $10,000 prizes as part of the 2016 Coca-Cola Shaping a Better Future Grant Challenge for the Global Shapers Community. Here we highlight the work of the Kabul, Afghanistan Hub.

I was born in a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. I studied at a school where students fought every morning for a plastic carpet to sit on, and a blackboard and a chalk for teachers. We were off on rainy days and a few days after until the land of our school area dried up, because we sat in an open area during chilling winter and burning summer. However, all those hardships were the reasons that boosted in me the feeling to work for my community and help them live a better life.

After 9/11, I returned to Afghanistan and resided at a frontier province. It was where I completed my school in 2007 and undergrad studies in 2012. I taught English part time and worked as a full-time program assistant while conducting my undergrad studies.

Coming from the front lines of conflict zone and having lived among disadvantaged, underrepresented people, I increasingly became interested in helping people lift out of poverty and miseries. On a personal level, I always strived to look out for funding to help my neighbors make a living. However, I always dreamed of doing something big to improve the livelihood of our people forever.

In 2012, I frequently traveled to rural areas for work, where I saw a 60-year-old lady who worked in the farm and made around $1 a day. I saw this lady several times during my travel and felt really sorry for her, so I went to talk to her. It was when I found out that she had a son who had joined opposition groups just to make money. And as that lady had no one else to bring home the bacon, she worked on the farm to make a living. She was an experienced farmer, so I and other Global Shapers raised some money (around $500) and installed a greenhouse for her where should could farm and sell produce in the market.

After one year, that lady came to me with a boy and some money in her hand asking us to take it and invest in another woman like her. Most interestingly, the boy with her was her son who had joined oppositions. Now her son is working in the greenhouse, supporting her whole family and are living a happy, peaceful life.

This initiative was inspired by the story shared above. After this project, a couple of similar initiatives were implemented, the result of which was resounding in that it enabled people to make a living and live a self-reliant life.

In order to expand this project and contribute to making a peaceful community, Kabul Hub of the Global Shapers Community submitted a project proposal to Coca-Cola’s "Shaping a Better Future" Grant Challenge. We believe that the proposed project is a sustainable solution to the ongoing security problems that take advantage of unemployed youth.

Our target beneficiaries are disadvantaged, underrepresented youth with the necessary skills to start a micro-business, but who lack financial resources to do so. The Kabul Hub will utilize these funds to support micro business startups initiated by youth in rural areas of the country. We plan to support 14 startups with this project, which will directly impact 98 households. A sustainable factor of this initiative is that it is a bipartisan effort in that the support package is divided into two components: no-interest loan and in-kind grant. Depending on the nature of startup, a support mechanism is tailored to its needs. For instance, if the startup requires procurement of fixed goods, the Kabul Hub will provide an in-kind grant, whereas, for recurring expenses, the beneficiary will receive a loan to be repossessed during a specified period of time in installments. To conclude, each investment cycle multiplies the impact of this grant. 

Mansoor Akbar
Born and raised in Afghanistan, Mr. Akbar earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2012. He is an economic development professional, with over seven years of experience gained from working with various U.S. and non-U.S. funded projects in Afghanistan. His areas of interest include impact investing, entrepreneurship and development. Mr. Akbar is a youth activist and firm believer of volunteerism, who served as an undergraduate visiting lecturer at the department of economics for two years at Nangarhar University, Afghanistan.