MISSION

Increase private sector investment and economic growth in Afghanistan.

VISION

Afghanistan's business environment is transparent, predictable, easy to comply with, provides equal opportunities and encourages fair competition.

VALUES

  • Excellence
  • Innovation
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Afghan
  • Equal opportunities
  • Trust
  • Results oriented

Harakat Works in Four Areas

PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

Improve services by helping government agencies partner with companies for big infrastructure projects.

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INVESTMENT FACILITATION

Increase investor confidence by helping to put in place mechanisms to protect investor rights.

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LEGAL AND REGULATORY REFORM

Make it easier to do business by helping to improve laws and regulations.

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WOMEN’S ECONOMIC INCLUSION

Get more women to join the formal workforce by helping to remove obstacles that have held them back.

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Building On Past Success

Harakat Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility, a program funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID) from 2009-2015. This program's 36 projects laid the foundation for a better business environment in Afghanistan.

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Stories

Harakat Trained Around 30 judges, prosecutors and attorneys in the First Judges Training Programme in Kabul.

Following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Harakat, Da Afghanistan Bank, and Supreme Court in January 2020, Harakat inaugurated the first training on 2nd March 2020. This is the first of the series of 7 trainings that Harakat organise in seven zones in Afghanistan from March 2020 – July 2020. The programme has two components. The first one is to train 240 judges and prosecutors on commercial and financial laws in 34 provinces. This component aims to strengthen the rule of law by improving and enhancing the capacity of judges, prosecutors, and other officers in the justice sector in Afghanistan. It will also help the private sector to reduce the time that takes to resolve a business dispute in commercial courts. Currently, according to the World Bank Doing Business Report, it takes more than 1,600 days to solve a business dispute in commercial courts. The impact of this training will be huge in terms of reducing the time and the cost for the private sector, while dealing with commercial matters, and will improve private sector confidence in commercial courts. The second component of the project is establishing an online portal for the Supreme Court. The portal will be merged with commercial courts, where commercial court’s jurisdictions will be uploaded from all over the country. It aims to enhance transparency on commercial court decisions. Ultimately, it improves private sector awareness and confidence on the commercial court’s decisions. The portal will also provide private sector with real-time information regarding primary and final decisions of commercial cases they have registered. Online publication of commercial court cases will also improve the capacity of courts to utilise evolving technology. More importantly, it will improve the private sector confidence in formal judicial system and will be used as a pressure for the courts to resolve the cases in timely matter as the private sector needs. This project is a combined effort of various government institutions, including Da Afghanistan Bank, Supreme Court, Ministry of Finance, Attorney General Office and Ministry of Interior Affairs. The project costs $300,000 and will be fully funded by Harakat through the Afghanistan Investment Climate Programme, which is co-funded by the UK through the Department for International Development and Kingdom of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Agency. In the inauguration ceremony, Noor Alam Hakimyar, Harakat’s CEO, said, “Considering the importance of this project, we prioritise it under Harakat’s Legal and Regulatory Reform programme pillar. Therefore, we expect each of the participants to take the advantage of this training and make a difference when they go back to their offices.” Dr. Abdullah Attaie, Director of Education of Supreme Court, thanked Harakat for supporting this project and said, “This training brings together judges, prosecutors, and attorneys from different government institutions under one chamber. This will provide a great opportunity for attendees to learn and discuss financial and commercial laws.” After 17 days, the first training, which was held in Kabul on March 2, 2020, ended on March 19, 2020. Around 30 judges, prosecutors and attorneys from Kabul, Punjshir, Kapisa and Parwan attend this training. They were trained to have fully understand of the financial and commercial laws in Afghanistan most of which have been enacted in recent years. Ajmal Daudzai, an attorney and one the participants, thanked Harakat for financially supporting this programme and said, “This training, alongside providing opportunity for capacity building of judges and prosecutors, created harmony among those government institutions that are working on financial and commercial laws.” He also added, “In the training, we had enough time to have deep discussions on each topic.” Massoud Ahmadzai, another participant, said, “Launching this programme is a valuable step by Harakat. We appreciate Harakat for this initiative. This will increase the capacity of judges, prosecutors and attorneys.” He went on and said, “The subjects that were presented are essential for Afghanistan. We were trained on topics such us Money Laundering, Commercial Crimes, Custom Laws, Banking Laws, Procurement Laws and arbitration. The trainers were professional and conversant, too.”

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Harakat Signs an MoU with Afghanistan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) to Improve and Promote Women’s Businesses in Afghanistan.

On March 8, 2020, Harakat signed an MoU with Afghanistan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) on Women’s Business Innovation and Acceleration Hubs (WBIAH) and Women Entrepreneurs Database and Skills Training. The MoU singing ceremony was held in the Ministry of Urban Development and Land (MULD). The event was attended by Harakat’s and AWCCI leadership as well as representative from MULD. The MoU was signed by Mr. Noor Alam Hakimyar, Harakat’s CEO, and Ms. Manizah Wafeq, Co-founder and President of AWCCI. This is one the Harakat’s short-term projects. The project aims to increase women’s markets effectiveness and promote women’s businesses. According to this project, at least six non-functional women markets will be operationalized in Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Kandahar and Nangarhar. Harakat, through this project, will functionalize these markets and provide the start-up and scale-up support. The first thing will be renaming these places from Women’s Markets to Women’s Business Innovation and Acceleration Hubs. Then, these markets will be reformed and rebranded with new units and institutional documents such as operational plan and providing training to women and supervising them to run these hubs sustainably, efficiently and effectively. These markets will serve as a designing, packaging, training centre, a permanent exhibition, sales venue for women’s products, a meeting place for buyers and sellers, a distinct address for women’s handmade products and a business to business matching centre. Also, Harakat and its implementing partner (AWCCI) will conduct market demand-driven skills training for more than 200 women entrepreneurs in five economic zones. The training will be on financial management, packaging, labeling, branding, marketing, business planning, quality standards and certifications, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and leadership. Moreover, this project entails enhancement of women entrepreneurs’ national database. This will improve and expand the existing database with new features and types of information on both formal and informal women business owners in the country. Also, Data Clarks will be recruited and trained to collect, analyse and enter data into the database. Both AWCCI and MULD thanked and commended Harakat for this important initiative. Ms. Manizah Wafeq said, “On 8 of March, which is the International Women’s Day, we are taking a great step toward enabling women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. This project will benefit all Afghan women.” MULD representative, Ms. Sahar Hamdard, said, “We are happy for being partner and work with Harakat and AWCCI in this important project. The MULD is ready to rent lands for women markets in a very less price.” On behalf of Harakat, Mr. Noor Alam Hakimyar talked about the project and said, “We hope this project will help women entrepreneurs.” He added, “In the new phase of Harakat, we have a specific pillar for women, which is Women Economic Inclusion (WEI). This shows Harakat’s commitment in improving women’s businesses in Afghanistan.

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Harakat Holds the First Ever PPD on Arbitration in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, Harakat, in cooperation with International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), held a Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on Arbitration, which is the first ever PPD on Arbitration in Afghanistan. Senior officials from the Government of Afghanistan, including Mr. Abdul Karim Malikyar, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, and Mr. Noor Habib Jalal, Deputy of Attorney General attended the event. The Chairman of the ICC, ACCI, members from business community and legal experts also attended the event. There were also two panels of subject matter experts, who technically discussed “Arbitration as an Effective Way to Resolve Commercial Disputes” and “Creating Mechanisms to Implement Final Decisions of National and International Arbitrations” in Afghanistan. During the event, important topics on Arbitration were discussed and barriers identified. Harakat, in collaboration with the PriSEC secretariat, ICC and relevant GoA departments, will work to actively advocate for the removal of the barriers identified in the PPD. Also, the PPD focused on how an effective Arbitration can play a vital role in attracting foreign investments, which will positively affect the economic growth in Afghanistan. Most of the participants and key speakers praised Harakat for this initiative. Abdul Qadir Bahman, CEO of ICC, thanked Harakat for supporting this initiative. He said, “Arbitration has been recognised as the most efficient way to resolve commercial and economic disputes in the world.” Afghanistan has also taken effective steps and has had tangible achievements in this regard. For instance, Harakat under the Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility (AICF) programme established the Afghanistan Center for Commercial Dispute Resolution (ACDR), which works on Arbitration in Afghanistan. Some challenges still exist, including lack of awareness about Arbitration in Afghanistan’s commercial courts, lack of awareness from New York Convention about Arbitration and lack of recognition of external and internal Arbitration by commercial courts to enforce the resolution of a dispute through Arbitration. Noor Habib Jalal, Deputy of Attorney General, talked about the history of Arbitration in Afghanistan. He said, “Arbitration can fundamentally solve commercial disputes and can pave the way for a win-win situation.” He added, “Afghanistan’s laws have all issues related to Arbitration and the Office of Attorney General is ready to cooperate with private sector, chambers of commerce and business community regarding Arbitration.” Abdul Karim Malikyar, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, was also one of the key speakers. He said, “We have brought numerous reforms in the Ministry aimed to help Afghanistan’s private sector and business community. One-Stop-Shop project is a great example that has brought facilitations in both domestic and foreign investments in Afghanistan. On behalf of Harakat, Noor Alam Hakimyar, Harakat’s CEO, provided a brief information about Harakat and talked about projects and their suitability as well as effectiveness that have been completed by the organisation. He also said, “Harakat has been like a bridge between government and private sector. Harakat aims to prepare the ground for both domestic and foreign investments in Afghanistan.” He went on and added, “We will consider all the recommendations in this event, and we will continue to work with relevant institution to resolve these issues.”

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Afghanistan Centre for Dispute Resolution, established with UK’s support, continues to Mediate and Resolve Business Disputes after Harakat support ended five years ago.

Dispute are usual between two parties doing business. However, resolving a dispute through commercial court litigation is not always a choice of the parties due to time it takes and costs to resolve and enforce. The Afghan business community and foreign firms partnering with Afghan firms to do business in Afghanistan did not have alternative to resolve their disputes outside of the court. A specialised entity in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) inside Afghanistan didn’t exist. Therefore, usually they would refer to ADR Centers abroad spending significant amount of money in dispute resolution or simply referring to local courts despite cumbersome procedures. To help the Afghan business community and to establish effective ADR model, Harakat, in partnership with the US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), took this initiative and established the Afghanistan Center for Commercial Dispute Resolution (ACDR), the first ADR Center in Afghanistan. The project started in 2010 and ended in 2014 with total investment of US$2,390,703. This mediation support project allowed the ACDR to adopt a charter under which an international advisory board was appointed and an independent monitoring committee was established. Through this project, 20 Afghan lawyers received 40 hours of training in mediation skills and international best practices. These lawyers now serve as mediators for the ACDR. Considering how to resolve disputes through mediation is deeply rooted in Afghan culture, ACDR started its operation and offering domestic and international mediation services in 2015. Rapidly recognised by the domestic courts, ACDR started receiving mediation cases from courts as well. As the ACDR began to grow and overtime offered more rapid services in resolution of commercial disputes. Given the interest of the business community in ADR, it started offering expert reviews, audits and arbitration services with technical and financial support of CLDP. For the purposes of a sustainable ADR center, ACDR and CLDP conducted several international trainings for ACDR arbitrators and mediators, provided technical assistance in drafting ACDR arbitration rules, and facilitated certification of ACDR arbitrators with Chartered Institute of Arbitrators while Harakat’s operations were reduced for a while. Parties to a contract/dispute prefer fast and cost-efficient dispute resolution. According to Doing Business 2020 report of the World Bank Group, contract enforcement of a commercial claim valued at $4,679 a takes 1,642 days to resolve through the court system, whereas ACDR resolved its last two cases through arbitration, valued at $28,920 USD and $35,506 USD, within less than 120 days for each case after formation of the arbitral tribunals. This can demonstrate the professional case management system of ACDR and its overall management of dispute resolution. Since the ACDR’s launch in 2015, it has resolved more than 200 cases. Najibullah Khan is an entrepreneur who buys and sells commodities, especially sugar. In 2015, he entered into a two-year contract for supply of sugar, but four months into the contract, the market price for sugar increased, and his supplier stopped selling sugar to him. Najibullah asked him to restore the price to the amount agreed upon in their contract, but his request was denied. Luckily, a friend had seen billboards and TV commercials advertising about the newly formed, Harakat-funded ACDR. So, Najibullah got in contact. “I did not want to go through the formal court system,” he said. “I do not believe the courts are transparent”. ACDR is friendly and trustworthy.” Najibullah and his supplier attended three mediation sessions together, and while they did not reach a resolution, Najibullah had high praise for the process. “I would come to ACDR again for their services. They treated me well and they were honest and open with me.”

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The UK’s Investment in Arazi, through Harakat, continues to scale up creating more jobs for the poor despite our support ended 5 years ago

Arazi was established in 2009 with initial funds provided by the United Kingdom (UK) through Harakat administered Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility (AICF) Programme (2009 – 2016) to ensure that Afghanistan’s land is are used in support of the country’s economic growth, jobs creation, poverty reduction and make it easier for business to lease and invest in government owned land. Access to land is often the second or the third biggest obstacle for businesses in Afghanistan after security and corruption. By supporting Arazi, Harakat wanted to remedy the lack of standardised, efficient and transparent processes and lease procedures in Afghanistan to improve businesses’ access to government owned land for commercial purposes. Harakat delivered the reform in Arazi in two phases, starting in August 2010 and end ending in November 2012 with a total cost of $3,378,486. An independent Post Implementation Review (PIR), conducted in December 2015, found that Arazi has had a positive impact on the business climate, generating significant revenues and jobs, particularly: • Approximately $430M in private investment was leveraged by Arazi; • More than $3M in aggregate lease revenue to Government of Afghanistan; • Nearly 20,000 jobs were created as a result of private sector investment on leased government land; • $17M USD in private sector savings from recommended changes was also attained in large part due to a reduction in the number of steps needed to lease land, from 52 to 11. • 3,000 lease contracts have been awarded to the private sector Like several others, this has been very effective investment of UK’s taxpayer’s money with sustainable results. Despite, the project was completed in 2012, Arazi has continued as a functional and self-reliant governmental institution. Now, Arazi is one of the important government entities, providing services to the public. Most importantly, it has brought salient improvements in the Afghanistan’s private sector. According to the Ministry of Urban Development and Land (MUDL), 7,009 lease contracts have been awarded by Arazi to private sector as of end of January 2020, including to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Since the reforms were made through Harakat, Arazi has created more than 27,794 jobs, leased out 163,803 Jeribs of land to the private sector, and collected more than $11M revenue from the land lease. Magol Jafari is a beneficiary of the project. In 2015, she leased one Jerib of land for an annual fee of 3,150 AFs. She found Arazi training to help build her business and grow professionally, and Arzai provided her with seeds, water and fertilizer. After leasing land from Arazi, Magol’s life dramatically changed. She is now the breadwinner for her family and her four children are able to attend school because of their mother’s business. Magol says: “I will not let my children collect garbage and sell plastic. I will work hard to help them grow and continue their education while I am working to expand my business.”

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STUDENT GOES FROM REPAIRMAN AT HIS FATHER’S SHOP TO NATIONAL AUDITOR AT THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

“The School of Accounting has changed my life from dust to gold,” says Elyas Roheen, citing an Afghan proverb. In tenth grade, Elyas enrolled in a vocational program in preparation of joing his father’s small business in his Kabul, where he would do computer maintenance and electrical repairs. However, this all changed when he learnerd about the American University of Afghanistan’s School of Accounting course. He began the course in 2015, studying auditing, corporate and business law, financial accounting and taxation. After graduating in 2017, he worked as a national auditor for the President’s Office and then as an auditor at the Ministry of Public Health. Elyas is the last person to comment on audits before they are sent to President Ghani. “Without my ACCA training, I would never have been considered for this position,” said Elyas. “This kind of work requires the knowledge and understanding of charter accountancy that I gained at the School of Accounting.” In the next five years, Elyas hopes to open his own accounting firm. He credits the School of Accounting for his growing success and is encouraging his sister to enroll. Harakat funded the establishment of the American University of Afghanistan’s School of Accounting in 2010, off the back of a 2007 World Bank Report indicating that Afghanistan only had three national chartered accountants. To date, 787 students are enrolled, demonstrating both the demand in the market for qualified accountants as well as the high standard under which the School of Accounting operates.

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AIBF GRAD IS ONLY STAFF MEMBER THAT DOESN’T NEED ADDITIONAL ON-THE-JOB SKILLS TRAINING

Mursal Amin was studying French Literature at Kabul University when she heard about the Afghanistan Institute of Banking and Finance (AIBF) from a friend. She had long dreamed of working in management and decided that AIBF could teach her the skills she needed. She sat for the entrance exam along with 600 other hopeful candidates, and was one of 100 who gained admission. In the course of her six months at the institute, Mursal studied human resources, banking, finance and accounting. She polished her computer skills and deepened her fluency in English. When she finished her studies at AIBF, Mursal was hired as an Executive Manager in the human resources department of the Ministry of Higher Education. Mursal shares with pride that she is the only staff member in her department who started the job fully skilled with no need for on-the-job training. She credits AIBF with helping her acquire these skills. Mursal is proud to have achieved her dream of a management position. Without a well-trained professional staff to meet the needs of an aspiring market economy, Afghanistan’s commercial banks and microfinance institutions have had to rely on international staff to fill professional positions in the industry. Harakat funding supported Da Afghanistan Bank to establish AIBF in 2009. The goal was to train employees of financial institutions in international banking practices, with the end goal of filling jobs in Afghanistan’s financial institutions with national staff. To date, AIBF has trained 5,028 bank and microfinance employees -- 3,782 male and 1,246 female. Seventy-five percent of AIBF graduates currently have jobs in financial institutions, filling positions previously occupied by international workers. AIBF believes that the skills acquired in these trainings and subsequently put to work in Afghanistan’s financial institutions are responsible for the reduction of non-performing loans from 48% to 5% between March 2011 and March 2012.

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