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Roads less traveled

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If you are going to do business in Afghanistan, Mongolia, Kenya, UAE, you really ought to help the local economy, so that when and if you leave, something of value remains.

Over the years, ACCL has developed considerable expertise in the application of Steel Arch Formed Structures (K-Span) to building projects. One of the more cost effective construction methods available, this has proved a low cost way of providing durable commercial buildings in difficult terrain, and has been approved by the United States military. The system’s primary application is for warehousing and multi-use structures required to comply with a range of national and local specifications, and the characteristic round arched roofs of these buildings can be seen at ACCL projects throughout Afghanistan. The Mongolia subsidiary is now building ten K-Span warehouses for an agribusiness conglomerate in north-eastern Mongolia.

As the Mongolia business grows, the country can expect to benefit from some imaginative interventions on the humanitarian front, though as yet nobody knows what they will be. In Afghanistan, the company built orphanages, though its highest-profile project was its support of Skateistan, the first co-ed skateboarding school in Afghanistan which takes Afghan boys and girls of all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds, teaching them not only skateboarding skills and skateboarding instruction, but also healthy habits, civic responsibility, information technology, the arts, and languages. ACCL built, at its own expense, the facility (the largest such facility in Asia) for the internationally- known project. “When boys and girls spend their one day a week at Skateistan, it is sometimes the only square meal they get.”

Acting this way, Stukel suggests, embeds the business in the minds and hearts of the people, and differentiates it from the fly-in-fly-out, high security operations that typify service contracts in dangerous or demanding territory. The company has never had a confrontational situation with any of its employees, he says, largely because it has always consulted the traditional local leaders when setting up a project. In a highly diverse tribal country like Afghanistan, where not everyone gets along, this is the prudent approach.

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