Strengthening Democratic Actors in Afghanistan

We implemented a programme to empower civil society organizations (CSOs) engaged in the promotion of democracy in Afghanistan. Following a rigorous selection phase, 40 Afghan civil society organizations were selected to participate.

These organizations received targeted training, mentorship, and support. These high quality interventions were designed to strengthen the leadership and operational capacity of the organizations to manage and implement successful programmes in the run up to the elections.


Lack of funding, security concerns, government corruption, and limited organizational capacity are factors that can hamper the effectiveness of CSOs in Afghanistan. These organizations have the potential to become advocates for a strong and active democratic society. CSOs are becoming increasingly crucial as a counter to corruption, and have an important role to play in increasing accountability and providing disenfranchised Afghans with a voice.

Ensuring the sustainability of CSOs was an important precursor to supporting the democratic process in Afghanistan. In order for organizations to play the increasingly important democratic watchdog role, they need specialized training and mentorship to become more robust and sustainable. Organizations require a solid management and institutional structure that is capable of delivering high quality services in a competitive environment where funding opportunities are becoming increasingly scarce.

Our Position

Building Markets was uniquely positioned to carry out the program due to our strong track record of success in Afghanistan.

  • Between 2006 and 2012, Building Markets trained employees from 1,556 businesses in instructor-lead capacity building workshops and collected 861 responses to follow-up surveys. Participating businesses attributed feedback related to 333 contracts worth $144 million to their participation in these training sessions.
  • Between September 2012 and March 2013, Building Markets implemented a professional development program to build the capacity of Afghan CSOs working in human rights and women’s rights. Following a rigorous screening process, 45 organizations that promote and protect the rights of Afghans were invited to participate in the programme. This group of organizations received training, mentorship and support designed to strengthen the leadership and operational capacity of their organizations to implement successful programmes.


Programme activities were comprised of two thematic components:

Strengthening the Effectiveness of Civil Society Organizations

This component enabled participants to become effective advocates of their own missions through tools that strengthen the effectiveness of their programming. Training and mentorship was provided on:

  • Tools for effective communication
  • Engaging with multiple stakeholders
  • Networking
  • Techniques for advocacy
  • Media monitoring
  • Best practices in encouraging the participation of women in the democratic process
  • Collection & processing of polling data
  • Voter registration
  • Elections monitoring/ observing

Increasing Efficiency by Improving Internal Management

This component was developed to ensure that participants were given access to information, best practices and tools required to run successfulorganizations. This included information on internal management policies, procedures and controls for improving organizational efficiency. Training and mentorship was provided on:

  • Leadership, empowerment and management
  • Compliance, rules and regulations of donors
  • Programme management
  • Donor reporting
  • Internal management policies and procedures (administrative and financial management)
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Preparing for financial audits

What We Achieved

Through our program activities, we established a foundation of effective and well-managed democratic actors, helped organizations understand their roles and responsibilities managing grants, and strengthened internal management systems required to implement successful programmes.