Last week’s truck bombing outside the German embassy in Kabul, reported to be the deadliest attack in Afghanistan since the American invasion in 2001, killed over 150 people and injured more than 300 people. Amongst those who died were over 30 employees of Roshan, a telecommunications company that is one of Afghanistan’s largest private employers and has been recognized as a leader in the global B Corp movement since 2012.
Ironically, Roshan’s various services includes its specialization in repairs to telecommunications infrastructure after explosions similar to last Wednesday’s blast.
In a country where steady work is often difficult to find and unemployment may run as high as 40 percent, Roshan employs over 900 people, 20 percent of whom are women. Not only is the company a vital communications link with its 6.5 million subscribers in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces, but Roshan has been a leader in rebuilding communities across the country of 31 million people. The company has also funded various social enterprise, energy access and women’s empowerment projects throughout Afghanistan. With its services adding an estimated 30,000 more jobs to the country’s economy, Roshan has become not only a popular employer but has served as a critical economic multiplier across Afghanistan.
Founded in 2003, the company has emerged as one of the few successful Afghani export companies with its expansion of services to African nations such as Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. Roshan’s technology had a role in expanding mobile telephony access amongst Afghanistan’s citizens from less than 1 percent in 2001 to over 70 percent today. And Roshan’s M-Paisa, which in 2008 became Afghanistan’s first mobile telephony money transfer service, has helped boost financial literacy in a country where 90 percent of its citizens are still unbanked. The company’s community work has garnered many corporate citizen nominations and awards over the years, including being named several times as a Best for the World honoree.
As with the case of many bombings in Afghanistan over the years, local citizens, including Roshan employees, were overwhelmingly the ones who died in this bombing. “Afghans. It’s always Afghans,” said one local Kabul resident to CNN, when the news outlet asked her who suffered in such attacks. “It’s always Afghans that are harmed and get killed, rather than who the attacker wants to target.”
B Corp has partnered with the non-profit Mercy Corps to set up a fund that is accepting donations to support the families of Roshan employees who have either been killed or wounded in the explosion. Many of those lost were the sole breadwinners for their families, so financial assistance is urgently needed.
Image credit: Roshan