When one thinks about Afghanistan, the word ‘war’ inevitably comes up—but what happens in the wake of such unrest? Afghanistan is going through a transformation.
Though the country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the region, it also has unprecedented levels of access to broadband/fiber optic internet, mobile technology, and social media. The demand for higher education exceeds the supply available and the abundance of technology creates the perfect opportunity for new economic growth to emerge.
The U.S. State Department is focused on helping the country find stability and grow its economy, and it tapped Brent Chrite, PhD, dean of the Daniels College of Business, to unite representatives from business schools, policymakers, and business leaders to create the first-ever MBA program in the country at Kabul University, Afghanistan’s flagship school.
“This is the most difficult place I’ve worked,” acknowledged Chrite. “Many of the senior faculty were trained in the former Soviet Union and are essentially Marxists. It can be a challenge to assist them in the development of a market orientation, but this is what the country needs. I believe business schools, in any region, are uniquely positioned to assume a vital role in rebuilding the country’s economy, so this work is important. If I can influence one faculty member, one student, one policy maker, it’s worth it.”
Under this initiative, Chrite returned for this third trip to Afghanistan in March to train faculty and staff at Balkh University to help develop a graduate program in accounting and finance. An advocate of improving the human condition, Chrite has engaged in similar activities in developing countries around the world for the past 25 years.
While recognizing that there is still much progress to be made in Afghanistan, Chrite believes that in progress there is hope for the future. Through contact with government officials and other individuals, he has seen numerous people express an openness towards developing the private sector.
“Most MBA graduates in Afghanistan will end up in government positions, so the new MBA curriculum is already reaching the country’s future leaders,” said Chrite.