Afghan Entrepreneur Adapts Mobile Kitchen Project to Address Covid-19

2019 Asia Foundation Development Fellow Farhad Wajdi is a young entrepreneur in Afghanistan whose innovative idea came at a pivotal moment. He started Banu’s Kitchen with the goal of helping women achieve financial independence in a country where women have limited opportunities. Farhad built a fleet of solar-powered rickshaws so women could start their own street food businesses near universities and office buildings. Women entrepreneurs cooked delicious noodles, spicy rice, and burgers, driving their zero-carbon mobile kitchens around Kabul–a stable job that provided income, independence, and self-esteem.

When Covid-19 hit in early 2020, Farhad saw the situation quickly evolving and knew he needed to adapt fast. He realized that with Afghanistan locked down, there was no way for these cart vendors to earn a living. To help the vendors financially, Farhad had to find another way for them to safely continue their work. Many areas of Afghanistan lack access to basic sanitation, but using The Asia Foundation’s rapid response funds, he quickly transformed these solar-powered kitchens into mobile sanitizing stations. “Converting the carts helps both society and the vendors,” he says. The rickshaws are out in force now, with drivers suited up in protective gear distributing masks, sanitizing products, and information on Covid-19. 

Related locations: Afghanistan
Related programs: Asia Foundation Development Fellows
Related topics: Covid-19