Community Service

Gaining Financial Freedom in Afghanistan

CUs have given rise to great hope in this war-ravaged nation.

February 22, 2013
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WorldWide: Afghanistan

Assistance from the credit union movement has given rise to great hope in Afghanistan for a bright economic future.

Credit unions first took root in northern Afghanistan in 2004 through a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) program.

MORE PHOTOS FROM AFGHANISTAN

Today, the country has 27 credit unions, known as Islamic investment and finance cooperatives (IIFC), and seven points of service in 14 provinces.

The IIFCs provide products and services to more than 90,000 men and women. To date, members have received $94 million in financing to start, improve, or expand small businesses and farms through individual loans averaging less than $1,000.

IIFCs attract farmers and small-business owners in rural and urban Afghanistan, as well as in the more religiously conservative South and East. Involvement by local elders on IIFC boards of directors—combined with the use of Shariah-compliant products—helps attract and keep reliable members. About 2,000 new members open accounts each month.

WOCCU completed its eight-year run in Afghanistan in December, but IIFCs continue to grow, mobilize share savings, and distribute and collect loans for productive activities. IIFCs disburse an average of $2.2 million in new loans every month.

Given the IIFCs’ success under very adverse conditions, financial freedom beyond the conflict remains challenging but holds promise in Afghanistan.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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