For two decades, Central Asia Institute has promoted and provided education for girls in areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan where access to schooling is often insufficient or nonexistent.
When Central Asia Institute (CAI) began its work in 1996, there was no formula or infrastructure to support education in the region. They quickly discovered that community involvement would be essential to achieving lasting, generational change. By working with local communities and informing supporters of their work outside the region, CAI has endeavored to prove again and again that together, we can change the world.
CAI initiated their work in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan by meeting with village elders who desired to see their communities prosper. They formed relationships with parents who wanted a better life for their children. They spoke to girls and boys who dreamed of becoming doctors, scientists and humanitarians. With those ideas in mind, CAI began building schools, constructing vocational centers and creating health programs, all to empower the communities to be self-sustaining and independent.
CAI also understands the immense value of female education. They recognize that educating even one woman amplifies the impact of a school ten-fold, because she shares her knowledge with her community. CAI thus works to build her a school, keep it safe, give her well-trained teachers, maintain her health and help her grow. They also further empower women to become entrepreneurs through entrepreneurial programs, vocational support and literacy training. With every year of education a woman completes, her family will be healthier, her children will be twice as likely to go to school and she will raise her family out of poverty by bringing home more money.
When you educate a woman, you educate a nation and a generation.
By joining SEA, CAI hopes to engage with the social enterprise community, share lessons from their 20 years of service and implement new practices. As they increasingly incorporate social enterprise models into their operations to generate additional revenue, CAI will be able to redirect funding to new endeavors. In line with their goals of female education, their current social enterprise consists of vocational training that empowers women to run their own businesses. It also provides them with the needed knowledge and tools to reach new markets, access supplies as their ventures grow and bring in additional income for their families. This income, in turn, creates opportunities for their families by supplying extra money for school fees, books and tuition.
Additionally, CAI is working to add other vocational and enterprise components to their business model, including a gem polishing training. This would keep vital services in-country rather than sending the stones to China for processing. Another venture – currently in the planning stages – is a bed and breakfast where vocational trainees in cooking, hospitality, sewing and administration classes would be able to to practice their skills while generating an income. Both social enterprises would boost personal and community economies, ensuring that generations of children and women in Central Asia will receive education for many years to come.
To learn more about Central Asia Institute, check out their member directory profile.