The Tashabos Entrepreneurship Program

In a nation like Afghanistan where over 68%[1] of the total Afghan population is composed of young people under the age of 25, education is second only to security in determining its prospects.  Education provides opportunity, opens the possibility of a better life, and gives people a stake in a larger community.  In addition to language and mathematics, entrepreneurial and business skills are particularly vital for Afghan’s stability, yet they are rarely taught in the nation’s high schools.

Tashabos, the High School Entrepreneurship Education Program developed and delivered by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) was transitioned to the Tashabos Educational Organization (TEO) in 2014, addresses this need.  It reaches Afghan teenagers at a formative moment in their lives, precisely when an understanding of free markets, entrepreneurship, and civic participation can shape their future.  Covering Grades 10, 11 and 12, the Tashabos curriculum (Dari and Pashto for entrepreneurs) program has three interrelated objectives.  It assists youth in acquiring the entrepreneurial skills needed to start and operate a small business, helps them develop basic business and workforce skills to make them more employable, and generates understanding and support for market principles.

Since its transition, Tashabos has reached a series of milestones.  The annual enrollment exceeded 35,000 (56% girls) at the 43 high schools in Kabul, Nangarhar, Parwan, and Bamiyan Provinces that are part of the Tashabos network.

The Tashabos Educational Organization (TEO) is a youth focused organization that promotes responsible citizenship and leadership, democratic governance and lessons in market economy, democracy, and facilitates networking to high school students. TEO promotes entrepreneurship among youth, particularly those in high school. TEO is an indigenous, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization registered with the Ministry of Economy. TEO has Memorandum of Understandings with Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women Affairs, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries as a base for collaboration.

The primary objective of Tashabos is to instill in Afghan youth an awareness of the values of entrepreneurship, market economics, and democracy. TEO teaches youth the skills necessary to become entrepreneurs through educational activities, including training on market based economies, fighting poverty and corruption, and the promotion of good governance and ethical business practices. The teaching is preparing students with knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, management and leadership of Tashabos. It is inspiring youth towards creativity and innovation to be socio-economically empowered. The Tashabos curriculum is developed to provide students education on these topics before graduation to be able to economically rely on their own in both cases of continuing higher education or for any reason failing to continue their education. The students learning the curriculum, includes schools for both girls (56%) and boys (44%) graduating around 10,000 students each year.

The program works with 60 teachers who teach the Tashabos curriculum in their schools during the educational year. At the beginning of the school year, students are encouraged to develop their own business by writing a business proposal. Near the end of the school year students compete within their school for the best proposals. The students with the best proposals then progress to a national competition that chooses the top three among the final top ten. All the participating schools also hold periodic Tashabos student-entrepreneurs’ products exhibitions in the schools and outside the schools and have an exhibition room to bring together and exhibit sample products produced by the students.

More importantly, TEO assessed the Tashabos program at the end of 2016, Tashabos students and graduates have started businesses, expanded existing business, and revived former businesses that have added jobs to the Afghan economy.  The latest survey of Tashabos students shows the data collected from 400 students, Tashabos helped 69% of them initiate a new business. The businesses cover a range of interventions from being a hawker to establishing a shop. The Tashabos program assessment shows the details of how learning the Tashabos curriculum influences students to start a business.

Fazel Rabi Haqbeen, Executive Director

[1] United Nations Development Program, National Joint Youth Program 2009 updates