Spain's struggling economy is part of my daily news. I remember seeing a growing Spanish economy back in the 80s and speaking about the Spanish miracle. In 1985, Italy was ranked number 7 in terms of economy, and Spain was at number 14. In 1990, Italy was at number 5 and Spain at number 9. Spain had climbed up 5 points in a few years surpassing Australia, Brazil, Mexico and India.
In 1990, I was 21 years old, had just moved to Los Angeles, and was very competitive. I liked looking at the performance of my country and seeing it grow, but I also knew that like in any competitive event, once one gets on top, he/she will slow down in terms of growth and progress. Spain had a good streak but was missing fundamentals, and today it's paying for the consequences.
Today, my attention is focused on Afghanistan, and my active involvement with Afghan IT experts and youth is opening my eyes to the potential of Afghanistan's economy, its incredible growth, but also the risks... just like in Spain. It is now 10 years that the American and the European governments are supporting the Afghan Government and private enterprises. It is now 10 years that the Afghan youth is traveling the world to study and develop the fundamentals of the Afghan education system. They were deprived of freedom and education for decades, but for the past 10 years, they have been offered incredible opportunities.
It is now the time for the Afghan youth to take charge of their destiny and start working hard. When I say work hard, I mean work 18 hours a day and explore how to be self-efficient and over-productive so that foreign investors like Film Annex are motivated to invest more and more in the country. It's time to work intelligently and focus on digital media as well as other forms of evolved economies. The concept of philanthropy and charity is great but not long lasting. Wars, natural disasters, and economic downturns will arise, and Afghanistan will no longer be the center of attention. Afghans will have to be prepared and proactive to avoid last minute surprises.
Afghans must understand that the most important message to be sent to other countries is the message of good and reliable investment. When in Afghanistan, the foreign investor is the most important person in the room, and his/her interests must be protected by the Afghans themselves. His/her profits and success must be documented and promoted to attract more foreign investors and partners. I know there is a tempting tendency to relax and accept international help, but it's time for the Afghans to create an environment of lucrative opportunities for international investors.
From what I see, the biggest enemy and treat to Afghanistan's GDP and growth are not the Taliban or extremists but the attitude of the middle class. If the attitude is to be over-productive and honest to foreign investors, Afghanistan is the land of opportunity, and private investors will pour in like water during the rainy season. If not, they will vanish and never come back.
I was lucky at birth. I was born in Florence, Italy, and this is my PhD in life. I was even luckier with a family who supported me and gave me the skills to open businesses in the US at a young age. I am lucky today to have found great partners in Afghanistan, Roya Mahboob and Fereshteh Forough, and see them building Internet classrooms and educational software at lighting speed.