Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat - Entrepreneur and Humanitarian
Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat, CEO and president of Florida-based Telephone Systems International, Inc., established the Afghan Wireless Communication Company in 2002. Working with the objective of helping his native country rebuild its infrastructure after the devastation of war in the post-Taliban era, he partnered with the Afghanistan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on the venture. Thanks to Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat and his team, 4 million customers now enjoy a vital connection with the rest of the world through Afghan Wireless mobile telecommunications technology.
Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat’s pioneering company is now Afghanistan’s largest telecommunications provider, employing more than 4,500 staff members and serving as one of the nation’s major sources of jobs for a nation in need.
In addition to his work in developing Afghan Wireless, Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat established the Ariana Television and Radio Network, or ATN. Since 2005, ATN has offered 20 million Afghans throughout the country an opportunity to experience enriching programming spanning news, education, culture, and the arts. In addition to his network’s concentration on health care and issues affecting women, Dr. Bayat recently announced the addition of sports updates from football’s English Premier League, available to both ATN’s viewership and Afghan Wireless customers.
Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat is not only an entrepreneur; he is also a highly effective philanthropist. In 2005, he and his wife established the Bayat Foundation to help meet some of Afghanistan’s most serious and widespread social service needs. The nonprofit organization concentrates on assisting women, children, and the elderly throughout the country. Through the support of its base of donors, the foundation has developed schools, hospitals, and water wells, and has initiated food drives at Ramadan and around the year.
Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat recently led a delegation of academic and government leaders to Herat University, where he contributed thousands of books to the school’s collection on behalf of his foundation.
Bayat Foundation Furthers Justice for Afghanistan's Women
Among its numerous social service initiatives, the Bayat Foundation has endeavored to enhance the ability of Afghanistan’s women to access legal services and education regarding their rights. In 2010, the Foundation delivered $10,000 in the form of an Empowering Women Grant to a legal advocacy organization dedicated to representing imprisoned or accused Afghan women. Prior to this advocacy effort, many women in the country had limited knowledge of their own rights. Too often, those who had such knowledge lacked the money and access to the legal system to defend those rights.
Afghanistan remains one of the most difficult places in the world to be a woman. An estimated one out of every 50 pregnant women will die in childbirth, and the figure is much higher in more remote, isolated regions. Most women and girls have not had the opportunity to become literate, and the nation’s proportion of widows is one of the highest in the world.
Thanks to support from the Bayat Foundation, the Justice for All Organization can now offer vital legal counsel to help empower Afghanistan’s women. The JFAO is additionally directing its attention toward rebuilding the country’s judicial system and educating a new generation of female jurists and political leaders.
Helping Orphaned Children in Afghanistan
In June 2014, the Bayat Foundation began publicizing the Humanitarian Grants for Orphan Care in Afghanistan, its newest series of funding initiatives. The foundation, which was established nearly a decade ago, has made significant contributions to the well-being of the people of Afghanistan and has placed particular emphasis on the needs of the country’s most vulnerable citizens: women, children, and elderly adults.
International news agencies have reported that more than 2 million Afghan children are orphans. In many cases, this is due to the country’s recent intensely fought civil wars. Hundreds of thousands of children, many without permanent homes, sleep on the streets. Other young Afghan citizens have grown up in refugee camps located in neighboring Pakistan or Iran. And continued fighting in the country caused the number of casualties among civilians to rise by more than 20 percent in the first half of 2013. Makeshift schools and orphanages dot the area around Kabul and throughout the countryside, as Afghan and foreign aid workers and organizations try to bring ongoing education and services to large numbers of displaced and underserved young people.
The Bayat Foundation’s efforts to assist Afghanistan’s orphans also include the construction of new orphanages and the refurbishment of existing ones. Due to the foundation’s support, hundreds of orphaned children now learn in state-of-the-art classrooms in safe and comfortable environments.
Zeba Magazine - Uniting Afghans Worldwide
Zeba Magazine, which was launched by Afghan-American couple Amin and Samira Feda, is an Afghan lifestyle publication with the bold goal of helping to connect members of the worldwide Afghan diaspora with each other and with the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan. Given the scarcity of publications produced by Afghans for Afghans, it can be difficult for Afghans living outside of Afghanistan to access an insider’s perspective on contemporary culture in that country and to maintain a sense of connection to their communities and traditions. This is especially true for young people who may never have visited the country. Zeba Magazine addresses this issue by showcasing the best of contemporary Afghan culture and highlighting topics and issues that unite Afghans, both young and old. The magazine’s content is printed in both English and Dari.
First published in 2006, Zeba Magazine has a committed following in Afghan communities throughout the United States, Australia, and Europe. In the future, the Fedas hope to launch a second publication: an educational magazine to be distributed within Afghanistan.
Small-Scale Entrepreneurship Helps Drive Ethiopian Economy
Ethiopia has one of the most quickly developing economies in the world, and small-scale entrepreneurship is one of the primary drivers of development, creating new opportunities for employment and encouraging greater participation in the global market through increased exports. Furthermore, small-scale operations have done much to close the disparities in income between rural and urban communities, as well as between the sexes.
According to the Addis Ababa City Administration, nearly 700,000 individuals (36 percent of whom were female) in the city secured employment with small-scale enterprises between 2003 and 2010. During the same period, nearly 300,000 business operators received business training from the government, and about a third of these were women.
Small businesses in Ethiopia continue to face challenges, such as a lack of financing options and a dearth of modern equipment. Unreliable power supplies and problems with market access can also impede growth. Moving forward, it will become important for Ethiopian policymakers to recognize the economic contributions of small-scale entrepreneurship and create environments conducive to growth.