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Meet The Entrepreneur Changing The Future For Women of Afghanistan

2013 Time 100 Gala - Arrivals

You may have read about Roya Mahboob when the Afghani women's rights pioneer was chosen as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential in 2013.

You may have heard about her role as founder of a successful software company that's creating jobs for women in countries where simply walking into an Internet-enabled cafe is dangerous.

You may even have heard of her inspired use of crypto-currency bitcoin to ensure that female employees without traditional bank accounts receive their pay.

But nothing compares with meeting Roya Mahboob in person. It's tempting to ignore what's taboo in journalism these days, and to describe the female tech visionary in physical terms. Watching her deep in conversation in the center of the room, two clichés rushed to mind: tiny, which instantly conjures the word powerhouse; and small, which practically demands mighty. Is it so bad to respond to this 27-year-old change-maker's courage and charisma so viscerally?

The irrepressible Roya Mahboob triumphs daily over an unimaginable world.

She helps her countrywomen triumph. Powers on despite opposition and death threats. One of Roya's favorite words is "confidence." Her stories ring resoundingly with the word. It pops up as she describes the growing self-esteem that expertise and education -- and yes, a paycheck -- bring to newly employed women in this male-dominated culture. She talks of how the men, initially resistant and disapproving of the change in their wives and daughters, become more supportive when the money arrives.

Over half of the employees at Afghanistan Citadel Software Company are women. Through the efforts of Women's Annex Foundation, the charitable organization co-founded by Mahboob, 55,000 students now have Internet access and are on the path to digital literacy. Eleven computer media labs have been built in Kabul and Herat plus two stand-alone Media Labs.

Mahboob and the Women's Annex contingent have also succeeded where bigger, better-funded platforms have not: creating a revenue-generating model for content creators.

Intent on showing women and girls how to run a successful business, the team developed a film and blogging platform that not only compensates the bloggers but gives them a voice. While being trained in digital storytelling, the students use their expertise to tell the new story of Afghanistan. Their paychecks help ensure they can continue to grow an empowered future.

Mahboob says she and her team aren't just entrepreneurs; they're seeking to be role models. Clearly, they are wildly succeeding on a growing number of countries -- including the U.S. We talked with Mahboob on a recent visit she made to California.

Sarah Browne: You talk about "confidence" and the way financial independence helps increase it. Are there particular changes in confidence that you've seen among your employees?

Roya Mahboob: Self-confidence is the basis of personal success. It is a way to believe in our skills and trust in our abilities. I saw many of our students and employees start to believe in their power and feel confident. They changed their path in a positive way and became successful. Self-confidence was like magic in their lives; a fast way to change their lives.

SB: Who inspires you?

RM: My family is my real inspiration, especially my father who helped and supported me through my previous failure and helped me to be successful now. He told me nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but we should be positive and have productive experiences.

Sarah Browne

SB: You've met many powerful women via your work. If one of these powerful women could mentor you, whom would you choose?

RM: One of those women is Madeleine Albright, who is a very inspiring woman. I like one of her quotes: "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." I'd like Sheryl Sandberg to be my mentor as she is one of the most powerful and admirable women in the IT field. Her book "Lean In" really inspired me.

SB: I love the Superhero Factory project. Giving the young generation a chance to create their own superheroes to be inspired by is a brilliant idea. If there was a Roya Superhero, what would be her super power? What would she say to the children of Afghanistan?

RM: If I were a superhero, I would want the ability to provide digital literacy tools like computers, tablets or smartphones to every women in Afghanistan and teach them how to be financially independent and connected to the world.

I would say that nothing in the life is easy and don't expect things to be given to you. I would say they have to learn about their skill , talent, and own power because I think every one has a super hero inside himself/herself. If you find the right skills and ability you are a superhero -- it doesn't matter who you are or where you are. Good things will came to those whom work hard.

Superhero Factory Woman's Annex Foundation wants to give Afghanistan and its young generation their own superheroes to be inspired by. We are building the Superheroes of the next generation for Afghan students,

SB: What frightens you about the path you've chosen?

RM: When I am working hard and make zero progress.

SB: Would your family have predicted this path for you? What qualities did they see in you when you were growing up that told them you would be a pioneer and a women's rights rockstar?

RM: My family always supported me in my path. They thought I was not a good listener and I did not want to follow others' rules. Instead, I made my own rules. They thought my patience and curiosity would help me to be a pioneer.

SB: What future do you see for yourself? Where will you, Women's Annex and Citadel be in 5 years?

RM: Life is not guaranteed, but I do know that I want to stay in this field and focus on my two new projects: the educational EdyEdy and Artistic Street. I want to expand them to empower children and youth all across the world. Through Women's Annex and Citadel we will provide digital literacy tools and training for women's empowerment not only in Afghanistan but also in all other developing countries.

SB: Aside from donating to Women's Annex, how can we "western" women contribute to your causes? Can we help via social media? What can we do if we have time, energy, and skills we want to put to good use for your projects?

RM: We would love to hear their experiences and histories or any ideas in a forum of blogs and videos that we can share with our users in developing countries to inspire and connect with others. They can also share their technical skills and online training material with us for our future entrepreneurs on our new platform EdyEdy or WomensAnnex.

SB: Could we mentor these future entrepreneurs? Could we create a business incubator program for your entrepreneurs-to-be? You may have heard about a program for women-led entrepreneurs called ASTIA.

RM: We would appreciate if the ASTIA or TechStars program would be started to help our students learn about technical skills and entrepreneurship.

The Women's Annex Foundation is currently operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Mexico and their goal is to expand globally.


The Week That Was (10/27 - 10/31)

People wearing ghost costumes on city street

Happy Halloween, AOL Jobs readers! Sure, ghosts and goblins are scary enough, but do you want to know what's really scary? As we're well aware, the career world is full of situations that are the stuff nightmares are made of--the job search, for one thing, but also bad bosses, the minimum wage grind...the list goes on. For some creepy delights, check out our stories on Craigslist job hunts and office bathroom etiquette, or just take a look at the week's top posts below. And don't look behind you...

1. Fighting Cancer, Living to Face the Job Search
2. Where To Intern In 2015: Vault's Top 50
3. Ask Jack: Handicapped Stall, No-Contract Work + Job of the Week
4. The Art (and Craft) of Skiing: Utah's RAMP Sports
5. Finding a Job on Craigslist -- Carefully
6. 9 of 10 Americans Don't Know This Secret About Obamacare
7. Got World Series-Level Game, Job Seeker? Bring It!
8. How to Use Social Media to Impress Recruiters
9. People Do the Craziest Things (To Get a Job)
10. The Gelato Girl: A Story About Minimum Wage and Attitude


Cool Jobs: Pastry Chef

Close up of jam tarts cooling on wire racks

Who doesn't love a good pastry? A solid bear claw or croissant is undoubtedly one of the best ways to
start your morning (although your waistline may act otherwise), making pastry chefs particularly worthy of gratitude among the breakfast-related workforce.

So why not try out for a job as a pastry chef yourself? We've got an opening for one this week, along with all the other enticing jobs you've come to expect from our weekly Cool Jobs roundup. What else is in the mix? Well, a high-paying job in loss prevention, for starters, along with some great finds in web design and manufacturing.

There's something for everyone, so click through below and take a look!


Finding a Job on Craigslist -- Carefully

Classified ads on Craigslist website

Craigslist is a unique site with 700 local sites in 70 countries offering 80 million classified ads to the people in those locations. On Craigslist, you can find everything from jobs to places to live (for sale and rent) and many things to purchase.

Craigslist Has Advantages

Craigslist is different from traditional job boards in four important ways:
  1. Jobs posted on Craigslist are often not posted elsewhere.
  2. Posting jobs is free or inexpensive (compared with a traditional job board) for employers.
  3. Small and very small employers use Craigslist more often than large employers.
  4. Craigslist jobs are presented in chronological order based on posting date and time.
Keep those characteristics in mind as you hunt for your new job on Craigslist.

Do a Search of All "Jobs"

The most effective way to find a job on Craigslist is to search the entire "jobs" category so you don't miss a job that was posted in a subcategory (e.g. "admin / office" etc.) you wouldn't check. Simply click on the "jobs" title at the top of the Craigslist homepage for your location. Then, type your query at the top of the "jobs" category page.

When you get to the results of your first search, you can fine-tune by clicking on the "search titles only" or choosing another option with choices like "internship" or "part-time." Check the left column on the search results page for these and more options. Craigslist will show you search results in the usual reverse-chronological order with the newest at the top. If the results are limited, Craigslist will also search "nearby" locations to find you more opportunities.


Like most websites that accept postings from the public, some of the jobs you find on Craigslist are bogus, so keep your guard up. Be careful if:
  • No employer name is visible. Some legitimate employers do post "blind ads" with no indication of who they are to protect their intentions from competitors or even current employees. But be wary if the employer's name, address, and contact information is not given.
  • You need to pay them. The posting wants you to invest some money before "qualifying" for the job. Recruiters are paid by employers to find good candidates, and employees are paid by employers. So, no one should be collecting money from you.
  • They offer you a job without any screening or interviews. The employer is willing to hire you immediately, based only on your interest in the job, and wants you provide your Social Security Number and/or bank account number before even interviewing you for the job. That very important personal information is the last information provided, after you have interviewed for the job, are sure that the employer is real, and have been given a formal job offer.

Remember, if the job doesn't feel right to you or the people are a little scary, trust your instincts, and skip the opportunity!

Research Before You Apply

The Internet is your best defense. Don't be in such a hurry to apply for a job that you skip taking the time to be sure that the employer and the job are legitimate.

Who and where is that business? Look for postings that include the employer's name, address, and phone number. Then search on that information to be sure that the employer is "real." Is the address given for an office building or an empty lot or something else inappropriate?

Does that employer have a website that describes the business? If you only find job postings when you do the search, skip the opportunity. Legitimate businesses must do more than relentlessly hire people. They must generate revenue to pay those employees.

Apply Very Carefully

When you respond, use an email address specifically for your job search. Best is a a free email address from Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google--but, of course, not a "cute" address like This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Avoid using an address associated with your current employer (great way to lose your job or have a very uncomfortable talk with your boss).

Limit Personal Information Sharing

Don't share your home address or home phone number when you apply. Stick to your job search email address in your initial contact with the employer. Once you are sure that the job is legitimate, you can share more information, although I would protect my home address for as long as possible.

Meet Only in a Populated, Public Location

Even to meet someone who works out of their home, the first meeting or job interview should be in a populated public place, like a coffee shop or a public library. Don't meet someone in their apartment or house for your first meeting.

Bottom Line

Craigslist can be very helpful for finding a job. Many of the successful job seekers I speak with found their jobs on Craigslist. But be cautious with Craigslist--as you should be with any job posting, whether you find it online or on your local public library's bulletin board. The bad guys and gals are out there.


UPS Driver 'Soccer Kicks' $12,000 Package

United Parcel Service UPS truck making delivery

If you're going by headlines alone, shipping companies are seemingly staffed primarily by angry men whose workaday stresses have driven them to take out their rage on inanimate objects. It's a story that surfaces once every couple of weeks: a delivery dude on a security video wallops some poor, helpless package into submission. This time, though, the delivery dude in question added some stylish soccer-style moves of his own.

As CBS2 reports, a UPS driver was delivering a package to Westbury, NY's East Hills Instruments, when an employee told him that the company couldn't accept anything requiring cash on demand. That seemed to set off the driver, who proceeded to angrily kick, flip, and roll the package back to the truck--all in front of security cameras.

"He kind of one-hands it and then the kick and then the Pelé-style soccer kick," Ray Martel of East Hills Instruments told CBS2. "He does it right in front of the camera. I mean, who does that?"

Here's the kicker (no pun intended): the package, marked fragile, was worth $12,000. It contained a nitrogen calibration system--which, yeah, toss that around like it's full of pillows!

UPS has since apologized to East Hills, saying that it will take "corrective action" with the driver. Watch the security footage from CBS2 below.


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