Mahmood Karzai Biography
Mahmood Karzai was born in the year 1957 in Karz, Kandahar, Afghanistan. Abdul Ahad Khan Karzai, his father, was a prominent national figure and a member of the Afghan National Assembly. From a very young age, Karzai was inspired by his father and sought a great role model in him. He began his education at Habibia High School in Kabul. He was an outstanding student, and after passing the highly competitive university entrance exam, he got an admission at the Kabul Medical University, the then Medical Faculty of Kabul University.
Karzai, like many other Afghans, had to leave the country due to the unrest the followed the toppling of the His Majesty Mohammad Zahir Shah. He resettled in the United States, where he attended Montgomery College in Maryland to pursue his education in Computer Science. The government of Afghanistan at the time seized all of Karzai family's assets leaving them vulnerable. At this point, he had no choice but to start pursuing his entrepreneurial ambitions. Later in his career, in 2008, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Madison Hills University.
After the fall of the Taliban regime, Karzai returned to Afghanistan with the hope to contribute in rebuilding his country. He relocated his business activities from the US to Afghanistan. On his return, Karzai noticed that the business community was seriously under-represented and did not have a platform to organize themselves. To solve this issue, Karzai played a key role in the creation and formation of Afghanistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) that was launched in 2003.
The purpose of this organization is to forward the concerns of the private investors, entrepreneurs, and other businesses, to the government and other relevant authorities to make the businesses thrive. Karzai believed that for the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce to function efficiently, it had to be an independent entity based on membership, elections, and free from the government’s intervention. Currently, ACCI has more than 65,000 business members, 255 business unions, and several associations and cooperatives. ACCI advocates for the interest of the business community and supports the free market economy and free trade in Afghanistan.
Karzai is adamant in promoting free market mechanisms, removing barriers to free trade, and establishing institutions through which a free market economy can thrive in Afghanistan. In line with this belief, Karzai has played vital role in reviving several key industries in Afghanistan. Examples of these include the launch of the first official Toyota dealership in Afghanistan alongside with other Afghan entrepreneurs. Later, he embarked on another ambitious national project to revive the cement industry in Afghanistan.
Karzai planned to make Afghanistan's first, and only cement production plant operational, considering it crucial for building the infrastructure of the country. He mobilized the Afghan business community through the ACCI and raised $45 million for Ghori cement production plant. He assumed his position as the CEO of the newly formed firm, Afghanistan Investment Company (AIC). Through his hard work and endeavors, the domestic cement production industry revived and became operational again.
Finally, in what may be considered the pinnacle of Karzai’s achievements is laying the foundations of a modern city, Ayno Maina, in his birthplace, Kandahar. The city is considered as one of the leading infrastructure projects in the country. Having spent decades in US, Karzai envisioned to see similar cities and standards of living in Afghanistan. He wanted to build cities in Afghanistan with the similar services and facilities. Ayno Maina is the brainchild of Karzai, who succeeded in financing it by an Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC) loan.
This new city, Ayno Maina, has become, not only in Afghanistan but also in the region, a model of modern and affordable housing project. The residents of Ayno Maina have access to all modern facilities and public amenities by any city standard. The success of this project is considered a huge entrepreneurial success for Afghanistan as a whole. This project is a live example of that proper planning, management and leadership, results in great achievements.