Startup Valley, Afghanistan’s first private business incubator, has launched today in Kabul. The incubator, a project of AGHAEZ Professional Services, will focus on fostering entrepreneurial talent in the Afghan capital–with a particular emphasis on female business leadership.
Startup Valley will begin by soliciting female students across Afghanistan for business proposals. The 15 deemed most likely to succeed will then be inducted as the incubator’s first undergraduates. In the future Startup Valley will give preference to companies that are female-owned, or which have women as at least 10% of staff.
“We believe that by nurturing a startup ecosystem in Afghanistan, we will contribute to the economic growth of the country by helping to reduce unemployment as more startup companies translates to jobs creation,” says Ahmad Fahim Didar, Executive Director of AGHAEZ Professional Services.
“One of the biggest challenges the Afghan economy is facing is due to lack of access to proper technology both at private and public sectors, and in all areas from internet technologies to meeting standards, to use of facilities and in marketing,” says Rumi Trading LLC chief Sona Mahmody, who has worked with Startup Valley prior to its launch.
“Since I have attended Startup Valley, the way I thought about how business could run and how tech can take a role has immensely changed,” adds Mahmody. “Startup Valley might not be the first company providing these services but for me it’s definitely the first that changes the way I think about doing business and how technology can make thinks easier.”
Red Herring has previously reported from Afghanistan, a country sliding further towards corruption, conflict and sectarianism in recent years. Most of its fledgling tech industry is based currently on foreign aid and contracts. But as that money leaves the country some businesses–including many headed up by women–are maturing to give young Afghans much-needed work in a country whose unemployment is a staggering 40%.