Social entrepreneurs and innovators in Afghanistan:
Social innovation and entrepreneurship is a relatively new concept in Afghanistan. Here is how Shetab Afghanistan, a social enterprise is supporting social entrepreneurs and social innovators and their ventures in Afghanistan.
The accelerators in Afghanistan:
Shetab Afghanistan is co-founded by Azadeh Tajdar and Ajmal Paiman – ‘Shetab’ means ‘accelerate’ in Persian/Dari.The co-founders believe that Afghan entrepreneurs, social innovators and activists have the talent, drive and passion to develop and expand ventures that can impact on a large scale, solving daunting challenges in Afghanistan. However, these entrepreneurs and innovators lack business/organizational support, networks, resources and leadership skills to overcome many obstacles in order to develop and expand their ventures. That is where Shetab Afghanistan steps in.
Shetab Afghanistan provides mentoring, acceleration services and a co-working space for social innovators. It supports young Afghan social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas with tools, access to international/regional networks and resources to shape their ideas into viable ventures with social, economic or environmental impact.
They work with visionary and talented entrepreneurs who are pursuing their passion to improve their communities through their social ventures. Ventures can have a tech, manufacturing, or service focus, but all share one vision to #BetterAfghanistan, and to use the power of business to foster prosperity, well-being and wealth creation for their communities. It is the first real comprehensive program in the country supporting social ventures.
Spearhead by social innovators:
Azadeh Tajdar has been active in the field of social entrepreneurship for over a decade. She has proven her expertise in organizational development and leadership capacity. She says, “I started to work in the field of social innovation and entrepreneurship, this journey has taken me to work with incredibly inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders from around the world. I have worked in many countries, and worked with many startup social ventures, including from Latin America, East and West Africa, as well as with startups in West and Central Asia. What drives me is to find ways to unlock the full potential or social innovators and entrepreneurs. And the pool of talent in Central and West Asia is extraordinary; and as the co-founder of Shetab Afghanistan we embrace a historic and regional focus on entrepreneurship and social innovation which transcends borders.”
Ajmal Paiman is a business consultant working closely with the Afghan business community and entrepreneurs. An economist by training, Ajmal has experience working with the field of enterprise development with many national and international actors in Afghanistan including setting up on enterprise advisory support programs and rural enterprise development programs.
Broader vision to social entrepreneurship in Afghanistan
The co-founders of Shetab Afghanistan hold a broader vision for the venture. They says, “We share a vision about Central, West and East Asia that transcends borders – and one that is founded on thousands of years of shared history by the people of these regions – and we proactively look for opportunities to connect existing entrepreneurship ‘pockets’ with each other across the region. With our incredible and growing community of like-minded individuals and diverse organizations, we are creating a vibrant startup and social innovation community in Afghanistan that believes in the power of collaboration and co-creation, shaping a more inclusive future for its citizens.”
There are however challenges faced by Shetab Afghanistan, particularly in relation to the current stage of Afghanistan’s startup scene and ecosystem. It is nascent and therefore there are challenges linked to access to finance, availability of soft and hard infrastructure, human capital and the general attitudes and perceptions associated with entrepreneurship in general.