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Homestead Afghanistan is a nonprofit organization. It is a 501c3 nonprofit organization registered in Massachusetts, USA and headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Jill Suzanne Kornetsky is the originator and founder of Homestead Afghanistan.
Jill has spent the last seven years living and working ‘outside the wire’ in Afghanistan, as an independent consultant, advisor, technical director, project manager, analyst, operations director, business development manager, consultancy Vice President and President, and subject matter expert. She has authored and edited papers, spoken to community and interest groups, conducted and contributed to primary research, participated in conferences and industry events, and given academic lectures, all on topics related to Afghanistan.
Jill holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Harvard University; two MAs from Brandeis University, in Sustainable International Development and Coexistence & Conflict; two graduate fellowships in Persian Language and Culture from the Melikian Center for Critical Languages and the U.S. Department of State; and was a visiting student in Civil-Military Humanitarian Affairs at Tufts’ Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy. During her time in Afghanistan, and in preparation to form and lead new initiatives, she has taken another 2,500 hours of coursework, adding certificates and credentials in Social Enterprise, Regulatory Affairs, Circular Economies, Agriculture, Mineral Economics, AntiCorruption, CounterTerrorism, Green Energy, Gemology and others.
Prior to her second career in International Development, Jill was a Research Scientist in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, beginning at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital’s Behavioral Pharmacology Labs while still an undergraduate. In just under a decade, she executed or oversaw over more than $500M in research and development, on therapies for conditions including cancer, heart disease, growth disorders and viral infections, for biotech startups, contract research organizations, academic institutions, and some of the worlds largest pharmaceutical companies. She has designed purpose-built laboratory spaces, proposed and created new departments, conceptualized and built novel machinery, developed custom molecular and behavioral assays, and managed local, state and federal regulatory compliance. She continues to take courses in Public Health, International Health, Infectious Disease, OH&S and other related topics.
Janna Meyrowitz-Turner https://www.linkedin.com/in/jannameyrowitz/
Kim Allardyce https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-allardyce-b4888212/
Bobbi Koz Paley https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbarapaley/
Nadine McNeil https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadine-mcneil-95513512/
Marc DiPaolo https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-dipaolo/
Lindsey Colvin https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindseycolvin/
Anna Ruth Henriquez https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-ruth-henriques-1674026/
Meg Scheding https://www.linkedin.com/in/megscheding/
David Katz https://www.linkedin.com/in/djkatz/
Felicity Jones https://www.linkedin.com/in/felicity-jones-sdgchangemakers/
Suzi Slomback https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-k-slomback/
(Afghan Names Withheld)
Homesteading, at it’s most fundamental level, is about living a lifestyle of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Homesteading takes many forms, based on the motivations behind it, but most often includes subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry for eggs milk meat and fiber, the preservation of foodstuffs, and small-scale production activities for use, barter, or sale to provide supplemental income, including spun fibers, crafts, textiles, pelts, and clothing.
In Afghanistan, homesteading represents a return to the basics.
Historically, the majority of Afghanistan’s economy was derived from agriculture, and the majority of employment came from low skilled labor on smallholder farms. Urbanization, cause by the influx of foreign aid dollars, as well as a drought lasting nearly a decade, have drawn many Afghans away from their family farms to seek opportunities in the cities.
With the recent withdrawal of foreign forces, and the conclusion of most foreign-funded projects, opportunities in the urban centers are now scarce. Moreover, there is little room in the current Afghan economy for tens of thousands of desk jobs. A prosperous Afghan future depends on a successful return to its agricultural roots, as well as the judicious incorporation of artisanal and small scale mining activities. Both can be supplemented at the family and community level with opportunities for unskilled and skilled labor, providing the cash needed to purchase goods and services not produced on the farmstead such as medicine, fuel, telephone cards, cooking oil, and rice.
Homestead Afghanistan was designed as a long-term, whole-of-village platform of activities addressing the urgent need to generate employment, increase incomes at the family level, and improve the safety, security, and resilience of Afghanistan’s rural communities. Areas of greatest potential fall in the agricultural and mining sectors.
Specific training and technical assistance will include small scale agriculture and aquaculture; seed farming; production and distribution of seedlings and saplings, breeding and distribution of birds and livestock via local extension farms; Global Agricultural Practices (GAP); food storage and preservation; and access to finance and equipment.
The primary focus of Homestead Afghanistan is to engage in-country as soon as possible, reopening our offices in Kabul, and launching our trade school model, to prove its feasibility under current restrictions. We are beginning with a pilot all-female trade school and work floor, where Afghan women can continue to learn, and earn a living, in gender-segregated, socially acceptable spaces.
The last 20 years have created a culture of dependency in Afghanistan. The road to self-sufficiency, in the Afghan context, must be rooted in the country's natural resources; comprised mainly of what lies on, or under, the soil. The Afghan people don’t need a handful of high paying office jobs and a trickle-down economy - they need thousands and thousands of jobs paying a living wage, and a return to producing most of what is needed at home on the family farm.
Yes. We have an extensive network in Afghanistan, including individuals who can assist us in engaging with the Taliban to obtain permission to operate as a nonprofit in Afghanistan.
Our Founder is in Kabul, where she has direct access to the Taliban government,. She has obtained their permission to pursue all of Homestead Afghanistan's goals and programs, country wide.
Currently in Afghanistan, foreigners in-country are traveling freely, including humanitarians, journalists, and private businesspeople. Visas are being honored at the airports and other checkpoints.
The interim government is open to humanitarian aid, and is not actively interfering with business operations of foreign-led entities. The Taliban has already visited our building, met with the security team, asked if we had any government-issued equipment, left and have not returned. Guard staff remains at full capacity and working as normal.
Other initiatives understood to be for the benefit of the Afghan people have been allowed to operate, since the last Taliban regime and through until today, including the Emergency Hospital for War Victims, UN agencies, and humanitarian NGOs and INGOs.
Working in Afghanistan comes with inherent risks, many of which can be mitigated by careful planning, contingencies, and productive local relationships.
Current risks arising from the change in government include: currency and exchange problems, in the form of cash shortages and a ban on the use of US dollars in the local economy; an increase in robberies, and other crimes of desperation as joblessness and hunger are soaring; extremist groups operating in Afghanistan may see foreign operations as a symbol to be targeted, the change in government does not mean any lessening of standard personal or operational security protocols and standards; the International Community has largely withdrawn from Afghanistan and will not be reengaging in development work for some months to come, but a failure for foreign engagement (not aiding or abetting, but engaging) to begin as soon as possible will result in a worsening of conditions and a loss of the opportunity to engage meaningfully in the future.
Most significantly, because of potential sanctions implications, and until the US Treasury Department finalizes waiver systems under development for beneficial for-profit activity, we are unable to operate our benefit corporation. Homestead Afghanistan’s platform of nonprofit efforts was to be largely paid for using revenues from the social enterprise; as a result of the change in government, we are now actively fundraising for startup costs in addition to the expenses of the trade school pilot.
Homestead Afghanistan is a nonprofit tailored specifically for the Afghan context, more than a decade in the making.
Our founder began with solid theoretical and academic understanding of conflict, sustainable development, international security, humanitarian aid, and related topics, all studied through the lens of Afghanistan. This foundational knowledge has been been fire-tested and built upon by seven years of local immersion, engagement with a broad array of stakeholders and influencers, observation and research in-country.
Our Advisory Board adds more than 50 years of direct experience in Afghanistan, as well as an array of expertise matching the broad and cross-sectoral nature of our goals. Our mission in Afghanistan is a long-term one; we are prepared for a multi-decade engagement.
Our model is purpose built to suit local culture and conditions, and to be adaptable, course-correcting as needed to remain relevant and impactful through changing times. We view our stakeholders and beneficiaries, in particular, the local families and communities, as full partners in the process - having critical knowledge, ensuring access, participating in decision making, and sharing the benefits of the collective work.
We are seeking $150K for our first two years of HQ operational overhead and to pay core staff, while we prepare proposals for submission and seek donors and grantmakers to support our individuals projects and programs.
Homestead Afghanistan is in touch with representatives from the US Government, the World Bank, and several foreign embassies - each has expressed interest in our direct and sustainable approach, but will not be issuing institutional funding for some months into the future.
Engaging on the ground in Afghanistan is critical and time sensitive. We cannot wait for governmental, bilateral or multilateral support to begin our work.
We are focusing our fundraising efforts on private foundations, family offices, HNWIs, venture philanthropists, corporate sponsors, and other sources of support from the private sector. Once our pilot cohort is underway, we expect to approach these donors and grant makers again, and are confident that we will receive support in time for our expansion in 2024 and 2025.
Homestead Afghanistan is also pursuing partnerships with other organizations working in the women’s empowerment, women’s employment, economic development, agricultural development, post-conflict, poverty alleviation, self-reliance and sustainable development spaces.
Homestead Afghanistan has Grapevine, PayPal, and GoFundMe channels for donations by private citizens. We are actively seeking in-kind contributions of cargo and shipping services, air miles and other travel points or rewards to defray fundraising costs, legal and accounting services, equipment, electronics, vehicles and other assets in Afghanistan, and other ways of reducing our financial fundraising ask, from private and corporate citizens.
Friend of Homestead Afghanistan Meg Post has offered to put on a fundraiser this winter, tentatively planned to include musical acts, in Afghan and other styles, as well as a silent auction. We are seeking performers in the Boston area, or adept at the logistics of performing remotely, who can donate a short session to the event. We are also seeking donations of all kinds for the silent auction - from art to professional services. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to donate to, or help coordinate, the fundraiser.
We are already back in-country, and are in the process of reopening our offices and scoping out planned programming. We have obtained access to private land in Paghman, where our pilots. and proof of concepts will be carried out with local and international partners.
It is our intention to jump straight into our programming in Afghanistan, piloting our trade school model in Kabul, by Spring of 2023, with enough funds to reopen the office and begin laying the groundwork for the trade school pilot, including hiring and housing senior staff, recruiting and screening trainees, and securing space for the trainees to live and learn.
Within 6 months, we hope to have enough support to launch the pilot class. They will undertake a portfolio of training and support activities, including literacy and numeracy as needed, and trade-focused basic English; personal life and finance management; psychosocial support, primary care, women’s health and other forms of medical care; recreational activities; and of course a program of training on their skilled trade, designed to build robust understanding, and gradually increasing, durable skill sets, at a pace suitable for the trainees abilities. The trainees will be essential participants in the planning and curriculum refining process.
Homestead Afghanistan’s trade schools are one component of a larger, phased, series of activities focused on fostering and supporting self-reliance in Afghan women, girls, families, and communities.
The all-women trade schools Homestead Afghanistan is piloting will be built not as crowded sweatshops, but as all-female community centers - where women can learn a skilled trade and work for a living wage on clean, comfortable, fully-equipped work floors; on-staff female teachers and doctors will work with the trainees and employees daily; time will be set aside daily for recreation, exercise, and/or helping in the kitchen garden; preschool and kindergarten facilities will ensure our ladies’ kids are learning and being watched after.
Homestead Afghanistan’s agricultural work will offer field jobs to the community’s men, greenhouse and aquaculture jobs to women trained in propagation and cultivation, and in the process produce a variety of healthy foods for our schools and for distribution to the needy, as well as seed stock, seedlings, saplings, and livestock for distribution to homesteading Afghan families. We intend to support communities further by building clinics, schools, processing and storage facilities for agricultural commodities - with separate working areas for men and women, and other micro, small, and medium enterprises, all in partnership with our local families and communities.
Aside from direct financial support, we are seeking corporate or other private partners who can assist us by donating significant portions of the services and supplies we will need to fundraise, get our office started up again, and help us stock up for the length of the pilot.
Every category we can fulfill with in-kind donations reduces our overall financial ask, and the cash we will need to buy supplies locally. We have a cargo partner willing to donate space on various flights into Kabul, are seeking partnerships with larger regional airlines, and intend to bring in only the highest quality materials and supplies, to start on the right foot.
Maybe you can help us find and lobby suppliers willing to donate any of the following:
Air Travel (US and International)
Small Kitchen Appliances (220v) x 10 kitchens
Bakewear and Cookwear x 10 kitchens
Bedroom and Dormitory Furniture
Mattresses in a Box x 50
Mattress Casements, Sheet Sets, Towels x 100
Smartboard Style Teleconferencing Systems
Nonperishable Pantry Supplies
Restaurant Supplies and Storage
Laboratory and Classroom Furniture
Cordless Power Tools
Whole Home UPS Systems (PowerWall or similar) x 10
Personal Hygiene Supplies
Home Cardio and Gym Equipment
Footwear (casual, work, and winter shoes)
Women’s and Men’s Clothing (casual, workfloor, security staff)
Medical Supplies for In-House Clinic
Container Gardening Supplies
Pressure Canners and Canning Supplies
Pet Supplies and Food
We are also looking for partners who can help with funding, services, and supplies for our various programming components.
Maybe you have connections to organizations who would want to help us build up any of the following local facilities and capabilities:
Women’s Health Clinic
Primary Care and Vaccination Clinic
Daycare, Preschool, and Kindergarden
Greenhouses for Families and Communities
Food Gardens and Food Forests
Microhydropower and Small Solar Systems
Milk, Meat, Fiber and Egg Animal Husbandry and Breeding
Seed Farm for Testing and Acclimatizing Seed Stock
Aquaponic Systems on Family and Community Scale
Rootstock and Sapling Stock Development
Agricultural Processing Facilities
Lapidary and Gem Faceting Supplies
Mineral Processing Facilities