Sultan Ghani is a highly motivated entrepreneur who, instead of going the expected route of opening business in another country, decided he would make investments in rebuilding the economy of his home, Afghanistan. A true patriot who wants to help realize the potential of his homeland, Sultan Ghani has done some amazing work with his firm, The Ghani Group.
Below, he has answered some questions about his background as an entrepreneur and projects Afghanistan.
What motivated you to enter the world of business and work on projects within Afghanistan?
As far back as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was to set up business or businesses and to the best of my abilities help Afghanistan. The two aspirations have been an integral part of my upbringing. I’ve been very fortunate since a young age to have inspiring entrepreneurs around me, by far the best mentor has been my father [Hashmat Ghani]. He taught me that we owe it to ourselves and those that came before us to create a better future not just for ourselves, but everyone. Everything I learned I learned from him. He gave me the greatest gift of all; he believed in me.
Are people surprised to hear that you live and work on business projects in Afghanistan? What do you tell them?
It’s not surprising any longer because we’re witnessing the restoration of something that’s been lost almost entirely, the economy of Afghanistan. This is one of the largest untapped markets in the world with a young, vibrant, educated population who are people with all levels of experience who are passionate about business with unique and innovative ideas. A recent study done by USGS [United States Geological Survey] estimates over the country sits over $1 trillion on the rare earth minerals like lithium and gold. This is one of many sectors. More than 90% of the country’s medicine is imported yet there is enormous opportunity to produce herbal and chemical medicine for export, which the country use to do. Healthcare, renewable energy, coal, waste management, apparel industry, construction, oil and gas are all great opportunities for foreign direct investment simultaneously create real positive change.
What are the services that your company The Ghani Group delivers to the public and private sector?
The Ghani Group was first established in 1927 under name Ahmadzai Transport Company. Nearly a century later it is still a privately held, family-owned company conglomerate with combination of multiple subsidiaries and consortiums that specializes in support services to individuals and business enterprises working in Afghanistan and aboard. We’ve diversified our portfolio and now provide a wide scope of works and services that ranges from logistics, consultancy, operations and maintenance, catering, construction services, base operation services, security and financial services.
To date, what are your proudest entrepreneurial achievements?
When faced with adversity I overcame my fears. Evaluating the risks with starting a new business and taking them is a line divided by doubt. Sometimes that last step is too great, and the fear overtakes us. You will always have the slight belief that everything will work out for the better, but you can never be certain.
What led you to co-found the non-profit Institute?
Building the economic status of developing nations starts with giving women more voice and power. Gender equality is critical for peace, sustainability, and progress. It is up to all of us to work collectively to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality around the world. Most importantly of all; women deserve to feel safe. The verbal harassment that women in the world face on a daily basis is unacceptable. Our organization will should focus on teaching men how to act accordingly rather than preaching and enforcing their ideals on women who already know their rights.
What traits do you think are essential to lay the foundation for a successful entrepreneur?
Perseverance. Great things happen when your reach exceeds your grasp. It’s the desire to attempt something that many deem impossible which drives you to achieve. However, please remember you should never stop learning from others. Reach out to other entrepreneurs you know that have had more experience to weigh in and learn on what made them great. For me, Nowzar Ramin, CEO of Harirud Group gave me much insight on leadership and problem-solving skills to hone my judgement.
“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene
As an entrepreneur, what tricks or habits have you developed to keep you focused and productive?
I wish I could give you a rulebook or maybe even a workout plan that would help anyone reading this perform at a constant optimal level. The truth is there is no concrete habits, everyone works differently. Some have the passion, others have the tools, and most have the drive to keep moving forward. For me; it’s coffee – a lot of it.
What advice can you give entrepreneurs on how to learn from their mistakes to do better with their next venture?
Every mistake no matter how painful is a valuable lesson that will benefit you in future business ventures. You’ll make mistakes regardless of your age. It’s an in inevitable part of starting a business. Remember when you are comparing yourself to others, others compare themselves to you. Don’t punish yourself for the past. Learn from it, improve, and rebuild. Sometimes in order to realize success, you must first experience failure.