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.
Since 1993, Women for Women International has assisted marginalized individuals in nations throughout the world. The organization’s skills-based educational programs promote financial stability and empowerment, increased community involvement, and improved health and general well-being for women in disadvantaged situations. Assisting women in eight countries, the organization supports those affected by regional and domestic violence, poverty, and marginalization.
Women for Women International’s yearlong training courses in Afghanistan have helped more than 45,000 women pursue professional development and personal empowerment. Additionally, the organization’s micro-loan program has allowed more than 67,000 female entrepreneurs to launch their own businesses. Most women earned an average of $0.16 each day at the time of their enrollment; the program’s financial education has allowed nearly 10 times as many women to earn an average daily wage of more than $1. Additionally, the organization’s courses have tripled the number of women who practice family planning, and they have doubled the number who contribute to financial decision making in their households.
Over the years, the Bayat Foundation has worked to advance the cause of women’s rights in Afghanistan, most notably through the provision of grants to a number of Afghan social profit organizations committed to educating local women and enabling them to be self-sufficient. In doing so, the Bayat Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to the increasingly clear principle that empowering women in developing countries makes good economic sense.
It is not an easy task, however: compared with men, women in developing countries typically have lower literacy levels, smaller support networks, greater vulnerability to community or household abuse, and less access to and control over financial and other resources. Aid organizations must therefore be careful to take into account the specific needs of these at-risk women when designing assistance programs.
However, studies have shown that there are clear economic benefits when women are empowered through educational programs, job training, or similar initiatives. The most direct advantages come via the market: the expanded pool of available talent that results from better-educated, successful women helps developing economies maximize their human resource potential. Indirectly, women who earn more and have greater bargaining power are more likely than men to invest in their families. These investments include children’s education, nutrition, and health, which lead to greater long-term economic growth.
If you are passionate about humanitarian work and comfortable with public speaking, the Bayat Foundation has an opportunity for you.
Founded in 2006, the Bayat Foundation is committed to rebuilding Afghanistan and delivering both hope and practical support to Afghans in need. The foundation’s programs and services range from newly constructed maternity hospitals to emergency relief and disaster response efforts.
While the Bayat Foundation always welcomes support in the form of donations, volunteer hours, or fundraising efforts, it also needs committed people to help spread its message and build public awareness of its work. Sharing stories of need, hope, and progress is a critical step in bringing Afghanistan’s challenges, as well as its triumphs, to the attention of a wider audience, and educating potential donors, investors, and supporters on the type of assistance the country needs.
Toward this end, the Bayat Foundation is seeking dedicated people to serve as public speakers on behalf of the organization. Depending on your location, speaking opportunities may be available at events near you. Please visit www.bayatfoundation.org to learn more.
The Bayat Foundation, begun nearly a decade ago by Afghan Wireless Communication Company founder Ehsan Bayat and his wife, now regularly assists the people of Afghanistan by providing for their educational, medical, and nutritional needs. Among the foundation’s ongoing priorities is the well-being of girls and women, who were denied access to education under the previous regime.
Sardar-e-Kabuli, a high school for girls in Kabul, is among the institutions to which the Bayat Foundation has lent its support. In 2011, the foundation contributed to the growth of the school, whose classes at that time were held mostly in tents, with the 5,000 students studying inside the one small building in shifts. During this time, the foundation donated pencils, books, backpacks, shoes, and other supplies, as it has elsewhere in Afghanistan.
Thanks to the efforts of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Afghan Ministry of Education, the school completed a new building in 2013. Students can now learn in comfort in more than 50 classrooms, with access to a library and well-equipped laboratories.
Overall, some 12,000 students now study in facilities built with the help of the USAID Kabul Schools Program, which aims to increase learning opportunities for young people of both genders. USAID programs have put more than 140,000 textbooks into the hands of Afghan students and trained approximately 100,000 educators.
The Bayat Foundation works to provide the people of Afghanistan with a wide range of basic social, educational, and medical services. Across the war-torn Central Asian nation, the foundation has funded construction and refurbishment of schools, hospitals, and orphanages. It has distributed nonperishable foodstuffs, such as rice, tea, and flour, at Ramadan and throughout the year. In addition, it has facilitated the digging of wells in Kabul and elsewhere to provide clean, safe drinking water for underserved communities.
The Bayat Foundation’s international group of generous donors supports these and other efforts to rebuild the still-fragile infrastructure of this proud and resourceful nation. Volunteers assist with event production and fundraising in a variety of ways, both in their local communities and on a larger scale.
On the foundation’s Facebook page, interested individuals can learn of its capacity-building work, with recent news items describing the construction of a new well in Kabul and the distribution of textbooks to students enrolled in higher education programs. The foundation invites potential volunteers to visit its website at BayatFoundation.org and to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Include contact information and a brief summary of your interest in assisting the people of Afghanistan.
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.