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Increasing the Bandwidth for Social Change in Afghanistan: Mobile Health, Education & Agriculture

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June 7th 2012, 7:00 pm — 8:30 pm
Location: Mercy Corps Action Center

What: Increasing the Bandwidth for Social Change in Afghanistan: Mobile Health, Education & Agriculture. An evening with Shainoor Khoja, consultant and former managing director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications operator. Sponsored by Global Envision.

When: 7 pm, Thursday June 7; doors open at 6:30 pm.

Tickets: $10 Regular; $5 Students. Purchase tickets online here through Brown Paper Tickets, by phone (503-896-5747), or in person at the Mercy Corps Action Center (11 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday).

Where: Mercy Corps Action Center, 28 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97204 (Max - Skidmore Fountain Stop). 503-896-5747.

How do you build a struggling, war-torn economy if money can't change hands? Hear Shainoor Khoja, former director of corporate social responsibility at Roshan, Afghanistan's leading telecommunications firm, talk about how mobile technology moves money and other precious social commodities, like health, education and equal opportunity.

Most Afghans -- nearly 70 percent -- survive on less than $2 a day, so it's no surprise very few have bank accounts. But a substantial number -- about 17 million -- own cell phones. Harnessing Roshan’s technology edge and deep reach into the country’s most remote areas, Khoja and her team have worked to transform basic mobile phone knowledge into financial literacy.

The company partnered with Vodafone in 2007 to launch M-Paisa (“M” stands for mobile and “paisa” is “cash” in Dari and Pashto languages) in November 2008, a cousin to the widely known M-Pesa model in Kenya. Registered Roshan customers can transfer money using their mobile phone for peer-to-peer payments, microfinance loans repayment, airtime purchase and salary disbursement. Though it sounds simple, it has revolutionized financial transparency and inclusion in the war-torn country.

Recent projects include developing a telemedicine solution to address shortcomings in Afghanistan’s healthcare system, providing e-learning and low-cost computers to women and children, connecting farmers to local markets through mobile money, facilitating women’s leadership in building sustainable and profitable businesses, and setting up the first-ever corporate-based insurance system for Afghan workers.

Currently a business consultant with Better Business Enterprise Ltd., Khoja has expertise in Corporate Social Responsibility, impact investing, and strategies to engage “bottom of the pyramid” (BoP) consumers. She assists start-ups entering Middle Eastern markets and has a special interest in services for the telecommunications and Internet technology sectors. A “change agent in residence” at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, she is an executive-in-residence at the Center for Women’s Leadership at Babson College in Boston, a member of Social Venture Networks, and sits on several international and local boards and committees.