Helmand’s Business Climate Brings Hope
Helmand province is steadily changing for the better. New businesses and educational institutions are paving the way to a stronger marketplace and increased chances for better livelihoods. The province has a welcoming business climate, particularly for young entrepreneurs. There are many new companies that package and brand agricultural products. By visiting Helmand, one can see a great hope for future opportunities in the private sector.
In this regard, PDT has made a useful contribution in Helmand by assisting newly-established companies to win contracts. There are several companies who benefited directly from PDT’s services, but Boost Seed Company is the most notable. The company won a contract from the US Military for producing, packaging and branding seed products in Helmand. Likewise, there are construction firms that have benefitted by winning contracts.
University graduates are seeking employment in Helmand, and the young workforce is flocking to the many businesses in Lashkargah city. Vocational institutions and higher education colleges have opened in this city. Boost Institute is a brilliant example of expanding education efforts in the province. Its CEO is an Afghan American, who launched this venture to benefit the youth of Helmand through modern education and applicable technologies. The enthusiasm for education and new opportunities is high. A few PDT staff members take part-time classes at such institutions to build up their English language comprehension.
Land properties are at the highest peak ever in Helmand. According to locals, some plots are even more expensive than in Kabul or central areas, which indicates the demand of residential areas in the city. Large houses are also visible throughout the vicinities in Helmand. Though residents are uncertain about security in the outskirt areas, they seem satisfied with the security within the city.
Helmandi companies – in agriculture, construction, transportation, logistics and more – are optimistic about their growth, especially with the help of foreign assistance in capacity development and workforce expansion. In regular meetings with the PDT Helmand field office, these companies show interest in coordinating with Kabuli companies to develop more local procurement. They want to purchase Afghan goods from an Afghan company rather than buying from a foreign company that operates in Kabul. Such efforts keep money circulating in the Afghan economy while often costing Afghan companies less, too.
In general, business owners are unclear about the situation once international troops leave Afghanistan, but they are hopeful that more sustainable and long-term assistance from the international community will result in growth and development. They are eager to attend trainings and workshops, even if they are in Kabul, to develop their capacity and in the long-term, a more vibrant private sector in Helmand.