From a Refugee to a CEO – The world of connectivity and Global Citizenship

CTI girls

Were you born as a refugee? Have you ever been forced to leave your country because of war? Did your parents leave everything behind and start with nothing but a suitcase in a different country? Have you ever been deprived of access to basic education because of your nationality? Have you been judged or faced bias because of your accent, gender or because you were too vocal in your hometown? Have you ever felt scared and nervous while traveling abroad, standing in anticipation with your passport in hand?

That’s me! I hope this introduction gives you an idea of what I have been through approaching the third decade of my life.

Is wishing for a borderless world where all humans are treated equally too big of an ask? I’m not sure. While I was struggling to overcome fears I’ve faced in my own life, I learned a thing or two about what it means to be a Global Citizen. Human beings working alongside each other without the constraints of tags or labels to create an empowered, inclusive global community.

Knowledge is power and technology is the tool for this empowerment. That’s what made me  become a citizen of the world without considering geographical boundaries. I founded Code to Inspire as the first coding school for girls in Afghanistan and made everything happens in Herat, Afghanistan literally online, starting from the fundraiser, shipping equipments, recruiting mentors, registering applicants, curriculum development and etc. This is the power and connectivity I am talking about which enabled a refugee born who was deprived to access education makes her dream come true and give free access of technical and digital literacy to her hometown women!

Today ( March 8th)  is International Women’s Day and we are celebrating March as Women’s History Month. That’s why we wanted to take today’s blog post to celebrate all these young girls who are coming to our coding school everyday chasing their dreams and pursuing what they love. Just a few years ago, this would have been unimaginable.

Women don’t need sympathy, women need the genuine understanding of what they have been through and how the community can stand with them and treat them equally as men. This is what I am doing for our students in Herat, Afghanistan. I want them to be bold, courageous. I want them to be visionaries and agents of change.

Afshaneh, Munireh, Azita, Nahid, Samira, Razieh, Somaiye and all of our students at CTI are proving that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. No matter who or where you are!


In Conversation with Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest

Sallie - Headshot (1)This week, we’re thrilled to interview none other than Sallie Krawcheck after her recent Facebook Live chat with Fereshteh.

Sallie is known for leading Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney and Citi Private as CEO, and was called “The Last Honest Analyst” by Fortune Magazine and one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” Not unlike our mission here at Code to Inspire, her life’s mission is to help women to reach their financial and professional goals. That’s why we were so excited to have another discussion with her about women’s empowerment, finances, and the best way to navigate male-dominated industries.

CTI: Why do you think it’s important for women in particular to gain a deeper understanding of their finances?

SK: Simply put — and this won’t be news to you or your students — knowledge is power. The more you know about your money, the more power your have over your finances and the decisions that impact your future. Start with the basics, like tracking how much you spend and where, and figuring out how much debt you and your partner have (if any). From there, determine much you can afford to save regularly and look for a way to grow your money through investing.

CTI: Can you elaborate on the importance for women – the world over – to gain financial independence from the men in their lives?

SK: Right along with knowledge, money is power — in this case, economic power. (When we combine the two, good things happen, trust me!!) When we are in control of our own finances, we are more in control of our own lives. What does that look like? It can mean the ability to free ourselves from a bad situation, whether it’s at work or at home. As a society, it also means progress for women as a whole, through opportunities such as starting a new business or gaining additional education.

CTI: Do you have a story from your meteoric rise through the ranks of Wall Street that you can share with our students to help keep them motivated?

SK: When I was in my late twenties, after I graduated from business school, I realized something few women in their twenties have ever woken up in the morning and realized: I wanted to be a sell-side equity research analyst on Wall Street!

It was my dream job. I applied to a ton of firms, only to be turned down by all the big names — Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, etc. Finally, after over a dozen rejections, I landed a job at about half my pre-business school salary. It was at a smaller firm named Sanford Bernstein, covering a research area few people were interested in. That’s how I got my start in equity research, and three years later I was number one in my field. Sometimes you have to face rejection (in my case, lots of it!) to accomplish something great.

My advice? Keep going, it will so be worth it.

CTI: Do you have any advice for our students to help them navigate working in a male-dominated industry?

SK: Find a sponsor. What I mean by that, is find a colleague — male or female — who is personally invested in your career success. Aligning yourself with a good sponsor can help you navigate a predominantly male workplace, both in the day to day and also in your long term career. This person should be someone you trust, and someone who will advocate for you when it comes time for a raise or a promotion.

CTI: Although our students are a world away, do you have any universally-true financial advice to share with them as they start their careers?

Save a portion of your salary each time you get paid. Don’t worry about the amount, just get started. Regardless of how much you’re able to set aside, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly it accumulates. Getting into this habit is essential, because as the amount of money you have saved grows, I find so does confidence. You’ll be more financially stable, and more likely seek a new opportunity, or pursue that side gig you’ve been thinking about for a while.

In Conversation with Code to Inspire student, Fatema Alizada

Hello everyone! Please meet one of CTI’s impressive prodigies. We are truly lucky to work with women like Fatema. Her ambition and intelligence shines through in this interview!

My name is Fatema Alizada I am 21 years old and I’ve graduated from computer science faculty of Herat university.

How did you find out about code to inspire? Tell us about your journey to CTI, how do you compare yourself now from the very first day you joined CTI?

I heard about CTI from friends and teachers and I saw some post about it on social media and I decided to join to Code to inspire to improve my abilities.

When I began studying computer science I had lots of dreams about becoming a programmer but after one year in faculty I found it difficult to pursue my dreams and I decided to change the way I study. I needed a place like CTI and an opportunity to improve my skills. when I heard about CTI and later joined it, I was able to code with some language but I want became a real programmer I love to create websites and applications before CTI this sounded impossible to me. starting coding in CTI helped me to understand everything is possible as long as I try hard, now I am able to create web sites and mobile applications and now I feel much better about myself, and my future. I can say code to inspire has helped me to find my way and it allowed me to challenge myself.

What programming language and framework you have learned so far ? tell us about one of your recent application you developed?

In code to inspire we started coding from HTML, CSS and JavaScript and now we are working with Appcelerator to develop mobile application. My recent project was a mobile application, with the name of Code to Inspire It is all about CTI.App3 App2

Why you think learning to code is important for women in Afghanistan?

I believe every person, men and women, in Afghanistan have lots of problem and living is hard for everyone not only women, but women face additional restrictions and this makes the situation more difficult for women. Like women around the world each woman in Afghanistan has her own dream and talent. Coding for a woman who wants to become a coder is everything. And with coding she can find her position in society and can show her talent to other people and it is a big opportunity for them.

What is your message to people around the world as a girl in Afghanistan who is a coder?

My message as a girl who codes is, never give up on your dreams as long as you work hard and believe in yourself anything can happen. One day girls in Afghanistan can be the best – I believe it!

Tell as the fun fact about yourself?

I also love calligraphy and painting. Sometimes, in my free time, I paint and write just for fun.

Thank you for making Fatema’s journey with CTI possible! Support students like Fatema today!


In conversation with Code to Inspire student, Samira Ansari


I’m Samira Ansari, and at the age of seventeen, I just graduated from high school. I actually was interested in learning languages like English and Pashto because I wanted to speak in different languages in order to communicate with different people.

I learned about Code to Inspire from two mentors who came to our school, and presented the opportunity to become a student at CTI and learn about new technology. I decided to join, so I could learn new things.

Before when I saw websites, I thought that the people who had created them must be such smart geniuses. Now when I develop my own webpages, I feel so strong and powerful.

My message to girls around the world is to never stop trying because society cannot be built by just men. It also needs women and girls. Girls should use every chance and opportunity they get to further their education.

Interview with Code to Inspire Student: “I feel more powerful from my very first day that I started writing code”

Today we’re interviewing Boshra Rasouly, a tenth grade student living in Herat. She discusses the importance of changing the perception of Afghanistan and the perception of women in Afghanistan. As she explains, this isn’t possible without support and a helping hand! To keep her and her classmates’ education progressing, donate online at

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

My favorite subjects are Math, Biology, and Geography. I love math because when I solve a problem, I feel good and happy. I think an understanding of math in particular will help me learn all of my other subjects in school. With Math, I have lots of new and fantastic ideas because my mind is active and fresh. I love Biology because it helps me learn about the human body and Geography because I’m interested in nature.

How did you find out about Code to Inspire?

I heard about it because a friend of my father’s worked nearby. I visited out of curiosity about the school and how it teaches computer science. I didn’t really realize what they meant by “coding!” It was a great day because now I actually understand what coding is and how to do it. I’m going to keep on coding until I’m the best!

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 10.10.47 AM


Work from Code to Inspire students

How has your life changed since you have started learning coding?

Since I became familiar with coding my life has changed a lot because I’ve become more familiar with computers and just the whole world of coding.  It’s become a real passion in my life and I dedicate a lot of time to it.

How do you compare yourself from the very first day you start writing code?

The very first days when I came here I was not so familiar with the fantastic work that I could do with coding, but day by day over the past year and a month, I have  learned four languages: HTML, CSS, JS, and JQ. I feel like coding can be unpredictable because whenever you learn from this amazing language you create such fantastic things.

And now I feel more powerful from my very first day that I started writing code.

What is your message to people around the world as a girls in Afghanistan learning how to code?

In Afghanistan, we haven’t progressed as much as the rest of the world.  This is true for coding, where there are a lot of limitations for girls and women. Fortunately today we can see that this limitation is decreasing as women in Afghanistan are proving that we don’t need to conform to outdated ideas of how we should behave.

We can have lives outside of home, work, or school, and  women can participate in different places like coding to show their power and communicate with the world and share their ideas on solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

My message to people around the world is that Afghan women, like all other women, have lots of talent, great ideas, and big ambition, but just they need to a powerful hand and the support of people.


An interview with Code to Inspire student, Fahima Esmaeelpour

Today we’re continuing our student interview series with one of the students from our new class!

We’re so excited to open our doors to a new class of young women and girls – all possible through your continued support. Read on to see your donations in action!

What are you favorite subjects in school?

  • Geography, chemistry and physical education

How did you find Code to Inspire?

  • One of my friends told me that there’s an institution for Afghan girls to learn, progress, and gain knowledge. That was good news for me because I’ve searched far and wide to better my life, and now I’m one of the students at Code to Inspire 🙂

How has your life changed since you’ve started learning coding?

  • When I first started at Code to Inspire, I didn’t know anything about coding. After two weeks, I realized just how creative I can get with website design. I hope to become one of the best coders! 🙂

What made you want to enroll?

  • No one wants to be left behind in technological advancements, myself included!

*This interview has been edited for clarity

Would you like to help us continue to make the dreams of more girls like Fahima become a reality? Support us in our work to educate and empower girls today

Code to Inspire Year End 2016 and Looking Forward to 2017

We are so grateful to close out 2016 with your enormous support as our team prepares to start 2017 with renewed dedication and excitement at the prospect of expanding our efforts. We can’t thank you enough for believing in our cause, standing by our side, and helping make our girls’ dreams come true.

Below are some highlights from our 2016 accomplishments:

  • Successfully delivered year one of our curriculum to 50  girls in the Code to Inspire classroom in Herat, Afghanistan
  • Forged partnerships with Google, PwC, and Deloitte to deliver real value to our students
  • Established relationships and partnerships with key government officials in a number of countries, including hosting the Afghan Ambassador to America at our year end gala
  • Featured on Google’s homepage
  • Partnered and collaborated with other non-profit ventures to bring a broader set of solutions to the cause of women’s education in Afghanistan
  • 2016 Google Rise Award recipient
  • 2016 Athena Award recipient – UC Berkeley
  • 2016 Young Women’s Honors Award recipient
  • Made with Code Global Citizen Festival
  • Featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Fast Company, PBS, Take Part, and the Guardian among others
2017 is off to a great start already! We are proud to announce a new partnership with General Assembly, a global educational company on a mission to empower a global community to pursue work they love through  full-time and part-time programs across a range of 21st century skills. Now, General Assembly will power Code to Inspire’s new web development curriculum, and we are beyond excited for such a renowned organization to lend their support to our cause.


You can read more stories from some of our inspiring students including Hasina Haidari and Morsal Fakoori as they describe their Code to Inspire coding journey. Thanks to your support, Hasina, Morsal and many other Afghan girls have hope and opportunity to realize their dreams for a bright future which includes a career development path, economic empowerment and an active, inclusive role as a Global digital citizen.

Give with Amazon Smile


Christmas is fast approaching! As you shop for family and friends, help educate women in Afghanistan. You can buy amazing gifts and donate to Code to Inspire at the same time by shopping through our Amazon Smile account. Click this link to set your Amazon Smile charity to Code to Inspire and contribute 0.5% of your purchase to our cause at no additional cost!

To learn more about our mission watch this interview with tech trailblazer and Code to Inspire’s founder, Fereshteh Forough.
Finally, last night, our founder, Fereshteh Forough was featured at the Young Women’s Honors televised event. You can watch a recap of her acceptance speech here (see 56:30 minutes in).


Thank you for your support this year in making 2016 the best year yet for CTI!

An Interview with CTI Student, Morsal Fakoori

We have another interview of one of our amazing students. Read about Morsal’s time at CTI to see how much impact this school has on our students’ lives. This giving season please keep stories like Morsal’s in mind, with your help we are teaching the future of Afghanistan!       


  • Why did you join Code to Inspire?


I joined “Code To Inspire” coding school because I have been interested in Cartoons since I was a child and I have always wished I could create cartoons myself. When I learned about CTI, I thought it would be the perfect place for my goals; a place where I can learn coding to create animations and cartoons.


  • What do your family and friends think about you going to Code to Inspire?


Since I joined CTI, all my friends and family are supportive and proud of me. They are very delighted that I am learning coding in this school.  My mother knows that CTI will help my future. I have changed a lot since starting at CTI and everyone around me feels the change in me. My family is very grateful to CTI, mentors and the sponsors who are helping us to get an education.


  • What have you learned and what experience have you gained since joining Code to Inspire?


The experience I got from CTI in one year is equal to 3 years of study at my high school: I am learning so much. CTI let me learn in a different way which I had not experienced before. I have found my way to the light. I have learned basic coding like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Bootstrap. I can develop simple Webpages.


  • What do you hope for the future?


I believe that if I use what I have learned at CTI my future I can say I will make a lot of achievements and will be one of the best female web developers in Afghanistan.

My future dream:

I would love to learn advanced coding and become one of the most successful female coders in the world. Moreover, I would like go abroad in order to continue my studies using the opportunities and facilities there and return to my country to teach others.

You can follow her on Twitter and learn more about her daily activities here.

Learn More About Hasina’s Coding Journey at Code to Inspire

Today we would like to introduce you to one of talented students at CTI as a thank you for all we have raised funds over these past few weeks. She is one of the many young women who benefit from your continued support.

In addition we would like to thank fast company and TakePart video for coming to our school and sharing our story. At the end of the interview we have put links to both these stories.

  • About myself and my family:

Name: Hasina

Hometown:Herat, Afghanistan


  • About my family:

My father is an architect. My mother teaches in a high school in Herat city. I have one brother and two sisters. My brother works in the international scholarship market through the internet. My sister is licentiate of the biology department.

  • What do you hope to accomplish by attending CTI?

I attend the CTI center, because it is the best opportunity for improving my coding skills and carry out my ideas.

  • What do you want to accomplish with coding?

In my opinion coding is the best starting point for improving new technology in Afghanistan. I want prove to world that Afghan girls are not afraid of impediments and we can be some of the best creators and most powerful programmers. I think we can solve the problems and deficiency of our society by using technology and coding.

  • Why did you join CTI?

Before I started coding I had many ambitions that I thought would be impossible to turn into reality. But when I entered the world of virtualization and coding, it helped me to understand I could achieve a great deal with the vast world of technology. My dreams are starting to become reality. I found the areas of study  very limited at university especially if you want to really implement ideas.The majority of classes are too based theory. Through Code to Inspire, I have the chance to work in a place that values my thoughts and learning skills. I can use my coding skills to create something concrete.

  • What Coding skills have you learned so far?

I have learned how develop 2D game and different applications for different computers and mobile platform by unity game engine. Also l have also learned C# programming.

  • What do your family and friends think about CTI?

My parents and friends are very proud of me. They believe that through the skills I have learned at CTI I will be able to reach my goals. They are also proud that I continue to help my friends and stay positive. My parents say that when I am around  I lift everyone’s spirits.

Here is the link to the fabulous story about Code to Inspire by Adele Peters at Fast Company.

Watch this video to see how Code to Inspire is impacting its students and Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2017 Code To Inspire / All Rights Reserved. 501(c)(3) Registered.