Film Annex talked to Entrepreneur, Richard Grace about his thoughts on the Film Annex initiatives in Afghanistan, the Afghan Development Project and (G.I.V.E.) - Global Initiative for Veteran Entrepreneurship. Film Annex built the first internet classroom this week right outside of Herat. Below is our interview.
Film Annex: What do you think of Film Annex's initiatives in Afghanistan?
Richard Grace: The opportunities for all cultures to participate and enrich the social fabric of Afghanistan are endless with this kind of approach. It is also vital and nurturing to preserve the history and culture of the Afghan people.
I have known Francesco Rulli for years and his commitment to improving social relations and education in Afghanistan are both groundbreaking in his approach and simplistic in its nature. Teaching the younger generations of Afghan’s children about the countless opportunities that exist in a globally free society are priceless. These are the true catalyst for change and growth. The opportunities that education can afford, far out way the heavy physical toll, the psychological burdens and torment, as well as the sheer outrageous financial expense that war brings. This approach is both brilliant and timely.
F.A. Digital and social media have changed the political scenarios of several countries in the last two years. Can they also affect the educational and financial landscape? If yes, how so?
R.G. I believe that the use of social media and the internet have permeated our cultural fabric in many ways. The wave of technology will continue to grow exponentially. Look at the number of on line schools and educational types of classes and seminars that are currently being offered through digital means. The use of computers in our classrooms have exploded in our Country and they are doing the same in many parts of the world.
The financial markets have all been revolutionized in the past 15 years with the use of the internet and digital capabilities. The way that trading is done today has been revolutionized. Just look at the volume of trading and the capabilities that digital media have brought to Wall Street. The number of online platforms for the average individual to utilize in planning their financial futures is countless. Choice and education have a bright future on line.
F.A. Is digital media the most efficient source that can educate the Afghan youth?
R.G. It is certainly a fantastic option to be utilizing. I know there are many different ways to educate children and adults. But the cost factors and expenses can certainly be mitigated greatly through this approach. Not to mention the ability to overcome geographic as well as geopolitical obstacles. The approach that Film Annex is taking will have a great impact without a great financial burden.
F.A. Can digital media and advertising sustain financially upcoming countries like Afghanistan and their educational system?
R.G. I believe that they will play an important role in the future growth of Countries like Afghanistan.
F.A. How can digital media serve the emancipation of women and provide them with an independent education, connectivity, and financial freedom?
R.G. The oppression of women and the violation of their human rights is something that every Country and culture must deal with, in a much more enlightened way. Unfortunately, some religious and cultural beliefs are still extremely oppressive towards women. This must change. Social and digital media are a great tool in effecting this change. Women can become empowered to learn and create many paths toward their emancipation. The internet and social media are tools that can connect these women and give them a forum to express their feelings, organize their thoughts, and collectively find solutions to better their lives and situations. And yes, It can also provide a median for generating economic gains as well.
F.A. What is your opinion on investing in the education of the Afghan youth and women by building schools in Afghanistan?
R.G. I believe that this type of initiative is a great approach. Through education anything is possible.
F.A. Our goal is to increase the average yearly income in Afghanistan from $900 to $8000. How long do you think this will take?
R.G. I have no idea on a time frame, but I suspect that reaching this goal will depend a lot on the acceptance and understanding of the Afghan people to utilize the technology, social media and internet. There is great potential and opportunity for the Afghan people to change their financial status, and also enrich their culture and quality of life.
F.A. Veterans have a prominent role in the Film Annex initiatives in Afghanistan. What is your opinion on (G.I.V.E.) - Global Initiative for Veteran Entrepreneurship and building veteran business opportunities?
R.G. I think that this is a great idea that needs to be made more widely available to our Veterans. Our Veterans need a proven assistance program that helps them in transitioning back to civilian life. G.I.V.E. is a solution; an opportunity for our Veterans to regain their confidence in civilian life and start a new career path, with positive and rewarding results. I think that this concept can be scaled up in various ways, using corporate sponsorship and alliances that can expand the different career opportunities and widen the options that our Veterans can choice from.