Fereshteh Forough, Founder and CEO of Afghan Girls Who Code
In January 2015, she founded Code to Inspire and opened the first all-female coding school in Afghanistan in November 2015. CTI, based in Herat Afghanistan, is a non-profit, one-year program for young women between 15-25.
Forough saw a need for an exclusively female coding school when she herself was studying and faced discrimination from male peers. She set up an IndieGoGo and was able to raise over $22,000 USD to help fund the coding school. CTI also received funding from other organizations, such as the Malala Fund and GitHub, as well as 20 laptop computers from Overstock.com.
She started the school with the following principles in mind:
1. Providing a safe and secure educational environment for the girls.
2. Providing a free school with zero financial burden for the students or their families.
3. And most importantly, equipping students with appropriate skills so that we facilitate their financial independence in the future.
Fereshteh Forough is also an international speaker. She participated to a TED in 2013 on digital literacy and communication without borders and to Clinton Global Initiative in 2015. She is also an advocate for gender equality and the empowerment of women in developing countries through digital literacy, education, and financial independence. In 2016, CTI was the recipient of University of California, Berkeley’s CITRIS Athena “Next Generation Engagement Award.” In the same year, CTI was awarded Google’s RISE Award, which granted the organization $25,000 USD. Forough has voiced her desire to open new branches of Code to Inspire in other cities in Afghanistan, as well as in countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.
"Forough is also an advocate for the use of Bitcoin. Since PayPal is not supported in Afghanistan, and many Afghan women do not have bank accounts, she sees Bitcoin as a good way to pay Code to Inspire students for their work. She believes that working and getting paid online will enable more Afghani women to become financially independent. "