Empowering future environmental leaders and social business entrepreneurs of Afghanistan
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The Yunus Professional Masters – Special Program for Afghanistan (YPM-SPA) is a new and innovative masters program for Afghan environmental leaders and social business entrepreneurs developed in partnership with the Yunus Center at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). The program was established in response the urgent need to provide continuing professional development opportunities for Afghan leaders and entrepreneurs and to address the country’s worsening development and social needs.
Visualized by Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, the program is co-taught by the School of Environment Resources Development (SERD at AIT), School of Management (SOM at AIT), and Sustainable Smiles.
Students gain a holistic set of competencies in social business, development, economics, policy, sustainability, project planning, and environmental management. The program is unique in its integration of practical, hands-on and issue-based learning, shared success learning, and service learning component. The service learning course builds on the success of our previous program offered in the higher education sector in Afghanistan to build environmental citizenship.
For a list of program offerings visit: https://www.yunusmasters.ait.asia/
Why is this program important?
Afghanistan has endured more than four decades of conflict, and with the collapse of the democratically elected government in August 2021, the situation for Afghans has become increasingly worse. While life remains uncertain under the Taliban regime, many Afghans continue to endure severe drought, hunger and food insecurity, extreme poverty with the country on the edge of total economic collapse, and gender and women’s rights under serious threat. Considering the confluence of these issues and the interrelated nature of the environmental and humanitarian crises, it is more important than ever that sustainable development initiatives adopt innovative approaches, considering the sensitivity and uncertain political contexts. The integrated nature of these challenges also presents significant opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship among Afghan participants and Yunus Center AIT's global network. Our program will offer a professional development opportunity for Afghan environmental leaders and social entrepreneurs to directly address the emerging gaps in the country’s environment and sustainable development sector through social business and entrepreneurship. Our first priority is for leading environmentalists and civic society actors who are no longer able to work or continue their activities in country – especially women.
Key Leverage Points to be Addressed in the Program
The primary purpose of the program is to equip the current and future generations of Afghan leaders and social entrepreneurs with the tools and skills to collaborate in developing and implementing local solutions for environment, sustainable development and social business impact through the following key thematic leverage points.
Gender & Tech
With a focus on innovative application of technology in the Afghan context and increasing women’s participation in tech development.
Access to education and training, collaborative learning, and multi-stakeholder engagement.
Community-based management of energy, waste, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Sustainable Food Systems
Integrated and holistic approaches for localized sustainable food systems to improve health, nutrition, agriculture, biodiversity, and climate resilience.
Intended Outcomes of the Program
12-15 scholarships provided per academic year
Equipping Afghan environmental leaders and social entrepreneurs with the necessary skills, tools, networks, and support to collaborate and lead interdisciplinary multi-stakeholder projects and social businesses that will contribute to resilience and prosperity in Afghanistan
3-4 interdisciplinary projects in Afghanistan
Integrating environmental, social, and economic issues that provide local solutions to global challenges and innovative and practical ways of working in conflict-affected areas
Strengthened local knowledge, skills and support for communities in Afghanistan
Collaboration and a train-the-trainer approach with an extended network of project partners
Afghan AIT Alumni Network
Strengthened regional partnerships and cooperation through the international Afghan alumni network and diaspora, promoting Afghan culture, research, and entrepreneurship internationally