Benjamin Freedman: Program analyst, Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, Defense Department

Best known for: As part of an American task force, Freedman, 24, is helping boost Afghanistan’s economy by helping the war-torn nation obtain international investments in its fledgling natural gas industry. Freedman works with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines, which has had difficulty taking advantage of potential business opportunities because of insufficient technical expertise and financial capabilities, as well as a lack of experience in the global marketplace.

Freedman and his colleagues offer the ministry their expertise on developing the natural gas industry, and they help businesses better understand Afghanistan, how to navigate the government processes and how to bid for contracts. Freedman and his colleagues serve as matchmakers for the Afghan government and global businesses, and they are always seeking creative ways to navigate obstacles and spur economic development.

Government service: Freedman joined the Pentagon task force in December 2010 after working as a researcher at a think tank, where he focused on Middle East policy. He also interned with the State Department in Marseille, France, while attending Bowdoin College.

Biggest challenge: Helping foreign companies better understand Afghanistan and learn how to navigate the government processes and bid for contracts.

Quote: “We are introducing the global economy to Afghanistan, while also introducing businesses to Afghanistan. Business people go over to Afghanistan, and it is an eye-opening experience for them. They see the challenges, but also the opportunity. We are there to assist.”

— Partnership for Public Service

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