Since coming to the United States in 1980, Ehsan Bayat has returned to his native country of Afghanistan to establish several successful businesses and a thriving nonprofit organization. Bayat came to the United States to complete his education at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology. Following the fall of the Taliban, Ehsan Bayat sought to improve communications for citizens across Afghanistan by initiating Telephone Systems International (TSI).. Together with the Afghan Ministry of Communications, TSI currently owns and operates the first and largest mobile phone company in Afghanistan, Afghan Wireless. In addition to these enterprises, Ehsan Bayat also founded the Ariana Radio and Television Networks, which broadcast to large audiences in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In addition to establishing communications companies, Ehsan Bayat has contributed to the development of Afghanistan through the Bayat Foundation. Founded in 2006, the Bayat Foundation strives to improve living conditions for people across Afghanistan by providing food, clothing, orphan care, entrepreneurship programs, athletics, and much more. Many of the programs organized by Ehsan Bayat and the Foundation focus on procuring clean water sources, a vital requirement for sustained health and future prosperity. The Bayat Foundation works in conjunction with several non-governmental organizations to carry out these various initiatives. Ehsan Bayat continues to play a central role within the organization as the Chairman of the Board and has recently been awarded the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award for his ongoing service. Throughout his career, Bayat has earned numerous other awards and accolades, including recognition as Businessman of the Year from the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and the Human Rights National Award from the Afghanistan Human Rights Association. In addition to his professional and charitable work, Ehsan Bayat was recently appointed to Afghanistan’s House of Elders.
Recently, the Bayat Foundation announced three 2014 Humanitarian Grants for Orphan Care in Afghanistan to be awarded before October 15, 2014. Qualified organizations may apply today for one of the three grants, each of which totals $10,000. To qualify, an organization must have 501(c)3 status and maintain programming for educating, housing, or otherwise caring for orphans in Afghanistan.
These three grants represent the Bayat Foundation’s commitment to helping the most underrepresented populations in the country. In past years, the foundation has undertaken a number of projects to aid Afghanistan’s orphan population and connect them to educational opportunities. In 2009, the organization established the Faryab Orphanage and Learning Center. In addition, the Bayat Foundation undertook the refurbishment of the Tahya Maskan Orphanage and Learning Center in Kabul. After refurbishment, the foundation distributed notebooks and financial assistance to students at the orphanage.
The Bayat Foundation understands that true change will only come from the work of a variety of committed organizations and hopes that these three grants will provide the resources necessary for nonprofits to continue their important work and expand their programming.
In the eyes of the leaders of the Bayat Foundation, lack of education poses a severe challenge to young Afghan people seeking to contribute to their communities and families. With conflict having consumed Afghanistan for generations, parents in some families have little faith in the value or potential of education for children, making it especially imperative that charities and humanitarian organizations step forward to serve as its champion.
Since its inception, the Bayat Foundation has sought to further the cause of education in Afghanistan, and the organization has a long history of supporting the American University of Afghanistan in particular. It has helped the school construct facilities ranging from a dormitory for women to a building dedicated to information and communications technology.
The Bayat Foundation has not restricted its education projects to the university level, however. It has built or rebuilt six schools for orphans, including the 13,000-square-foot Bibi Fatima Zahra School for Orphans in Faryab Province. It has also provided supplies to a girls’ school and supported Earth Day activities at high schools in Kabul.
The Bayat Foundation has supported a number of organizations providing aid to Afghanistan. One of the most innovative is the Business Council for Peace, or Bpeace, which champions job creation by providing entrepreneurial training and financial support to people running small businesses in developing countries.
At the heart of Bpeace’s programs is its network of Fast Runners. These are talented individuals who possess the business intuition and drive to rapidly build and then sustain a small business. Aside from business savvy, Fast Runners demonstrate the ability to train and manage others and have the potential to create jobs in their local communities.
Fast Runners work with Bpeace for three-year terms. During this time, they receive apprenticeships at American firms, where they learn the ins and outs of trade beyond their own expertise. Fast Runners gain invaluable contacts and knowledge, and leverage their experiences to grow their own businesses back home with the financial support and advice of Bpeace volunteers.
In Afghanistan, Bpeace works with Fast Runners based in Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif. These entrepreneurs have been drawn from a variety of industries, including construction, food production, radio and film, domestic services, and technology. In a country challenged by high unemployment, many of these Fast Runners have managed to establish thriving businesses and provide meaningful jobs for many others.
Among the many educational institutions supported by the Bayat Foundation, perhaps the one with the highest profile is Nangarhar University. The school is Afghanistan’s second-largest university, and it suffered a number of disruptions during the country’s decades-long conflicts.
Thanks to significant financial help, Nangarhar University has dramatically grown in the last several years. World Bank investments have allowed expansion of the campus grounds. Private organizations have also had an impact, including Operation Compassion, which, through the Bayat Foundation, provided a sizable donation of textbooks to the school.
Because of such support, Nangarhar University today serves 10,000 students in 13 disciplines, such as medicine, engineering, literature, computer science, and law. Recent improvements to the school have included the addition of hands-on equipment for students of engineering, the expansion of library holdings, and a computer lab with modernized IT infrastructure enabling easy access to the internet.
In many ways, Nangarhar University is a microcosm of the greater state of higher education in post-conflict Afghanistan: just as the university has expanded and stabilized, so has higher education in the country at large. Nationwide, enrollment in universities has grown from just 8,000 in 2001 to more than 100,000 today. Significantly, the trend applies to women as well: there were no female college students in 2001, whereas today there are around 20,000. In addition to public universities, 65 private institutions have been accredited. Schools all across Afghanistan have also enjoyed comprehensive updates to curricula and educational resources over the last decade.
The nonprofit Bayat Foundation has assisted Afghanistan in providing vital health and human services to a population that has suffered greatly in recent wars. In particular, the foundation focuses on developing clean water infrastructure, building and repairing schools and orphanages, and constructing maternity hospitals. Through these contributions, the foundation and its founder, entrepreneur Ehsan Bayat, have assisted in setting the country back on the road toward progress.
In the area of education, the foundation has supported the refurbishment of the American University of Afghanistan, the only nonprofit, private, coeducational institution of higher learning in the country. The foundation funded renovations to several buildings, including a dormitory for female students. Ongoing projects to benefit the university include the construction of a building to house its information and communications technology studies department.
With its continued focus on helping orphaned children and refugees, in 2009, the Bayat Foundation opened the Faryab Orphanage and Learning Center in Maimana Province. The foundation has additionally reconstructed several other educational institutions for orphaned children, and has worked with the Ayenda Foundation to serve hundreds of students through the construction of another learning center and orphanage in Bamyan Province.
Education is an especially precious commodity in Afghanistan, where some 4 million children, most of them girls, lack access to basic education. Only about one-quarter of the Afghan population possesses literacy skills, with slightly more than 10 percent of women able to read and write.
A prominent charitable foundation headed by telecommunications executive and longtime philanthropist Ehsan Bayat, the Bayat Foundation supports a broad range of educational initiatives in Afghanistan. In particular, the Bayat Foundation has donated thousands of textbooks and other educational materials to universities throughout the country.
In February 2014, the Bayat Foundation donated 3,000 textbooks and several computers to the University of Badakhshan in the northeastern region of Afghanistan. The books, which covered a broad range of topics, ranging from Islamic studies and social sciences to technology and medicine, were printed in English, Dari, and Pashto. The Bayat Foundation supplemented its computer donations with a newly established Internet club, which provides students with access to extra educational materials. According to university and provincial officials, the new books and computers will greatly enhance educational opportunities at the university and help students to gain access to valuable online resources.
In addition to its work with the University of Badakhshan, the Bayat Foundation donated nearly 1,500 textbooks on various subjects to the Paktia University in eastern Afghanistan. The donation, which represented one of the largest and most important gifts in the history of the university, addressed a significant need for educational materials among members of the student body. The Bayat Foundation also delivered 1,300 textbooks to Kunduz University in northern Afghanistan, which has welcomed assistance from the Bayat Foundation for the better part of six years.
By the end of 2014, the Bayat Foundation plans to donate more than 40,000 textbooks to universities across Afghanistan. The foundation hopes that its donations will boost the quality of education and ultimately foster a sense of cooperation among universities. In past years, Ehsan Bayat and the Bayat Foundation have focused their efforts on major infrastructure projects such as the construction of health clinics, libraries, orphanages, mosques, and schools.
The Bayat Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by telecommunications entrepreneur Ehsan Bayat to aid the citizens of Afghanistan, recently formed a partnership with Afghan Solar, one of the country’s leading alternative energy companies. Afghan Solar contributed $30,000 in solar power hardware to the foundation, which the foundation will use to power the hospitals it has constructed for people in need. Foundation officials say that this solution should provide a cost-effective way of ensuring a reliable source of energy for the hospitals while reducing overall environmental impact.
International news sources have reported on the degradation of Afghanistan’s environment over recent years due to war, population shifts, and inadequate oversight. Older and poorly serviced cars and trucks imported into Afghanistan have received substantial blame as one significant cause of air pollution. One official said that the smog over the capital city of Kabul is the result of a mix of exhaust fumes from these vehicles, industrial waste, and the indiscriminate burning of automobile tires and plastics as sources of fuel. Over one recent nine-year period, Afghanistan logged close to half a million cases of respiratory illness among its citizens.
Other environmental issues facing today’s Afghanistan include erosion of the soil, fast-paced deforestation, the desertification of the land, and widespread water pollution, including that of the Kabul River.
Through efforts such as the partnership between the Bayat Foundation and Afghan Solar, Afghanistan’s people have begun to reduce the environmental impact of a developing country working to improve conditions for its people.
Ehsan Bayat’s commendations include an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) given at the school’s second commencement. This degree was in recognition of Mr. Bayat’s selfless efforts to expand educational opportunities for all Afghans and for his many humanitarian deeds across the country. At AUAF in particular, the Bayat Foundation has been very generous is its efforts to help rebuild and expand the campus, including women’s dormitories, gymnasium, and the Bayat ICT Building, currently under construction.
The American University of Afghanistan has been operating for seven years in Kabul. Currently, more than 2,000 students are receiving their higher education in the fields of business administration, Information Technology and Computer Sciences from AUAF. AUAF has placed particular emphasis on building international connections and educating women. In 2013, half of the university’s incoming class was female, and the school has built a $5 million center to provide support for Afghan business owners who are women. AUAF also hit several other milestones in 2013. Its fall enrollment surpassed 1,000 students, one of its seniors won a worldwide competition administered by UNESCO, and it hosted United States National Security Advisor Susan Rice at its women’s center.
Among the Bayat Foundation’s key charitable initiatives in Afghanistan is the provision of food to families in need. Unfortunately, food insecurity, which in 2011 affected two-thirds of Afghans, remains a pressing problem in Afghanistan.
Each year, the organization gives out food during the month of Ramadan and during the harsh winter months. Ramadan packages typically include rice, flour, oil, and other necessities such as salt and tea, while winter packages may also include blankets, jackets, and warm clothing alongside the food. To help fund the purchase of such packages, the organization uses donations made via mail or its website. In past years, the Bayat Foundation’s Ramadan initiative has fed hundreds of Afghan families in several provinces and, recently, working with its NGO partner Food for Kidz, the Foundation has distributed more than 600,000 pre-packaged meals.
In pursuit of its goal to improve the health and well-being of people across Afghanistan, the Bayat Foundation has completed a number of water projects in the country. Many Afghans have no access to potable drinking water, and since lack of clean water contributes significantly to poor health, the Foundation has made building new wells a priority.
Several of the group’s water projects are located in Kabul. In the city’s Dashte-e-Barchi and Arzan-Qemat areas, the Bayat Foundation built four wells after receiving generous funding from two donors. In Qalae Barqe Village, it dug a new well in 2012. The foundation has completed two more wells elsewhere in the city.
The Bayat Foundation has also kept busy with water projects outside of Kabul. In 2013, it completed a well in Parwan Province’s Barek Ab district, and it has dug wells in cities ranging from Herat to Jalalabad. All in all, the Foundation has completed more than 10 wells, and it expects to continue building more as demand for clean water grows.