Some readers will recall (and perhaps maybe read) Merkin Brothers, a satirical novel about finance set in Asia in 1997. Having begun life as an anonymous serialization on the internet, it was later exposed by David Webb of webbsite.com as being the handiwork of FinanceAsia's Editor, Steven Irvine.
A book followed in which Steve donated all the profits to the Afghanistan Institute of Learning (AIL), a charity founded with the aim of putting Afghan girls through a basic education - a process which the Taliban had rendered near impossible in the preceding years. He learned of the charity from a CNN correspondent who was based in the region during the conflict in late 2001.
This week the money raised - US$20,000 - was paid over to the AIL. The AIL now operates six education centres in Afghanistan and the money will be donated to the facility in Herat. In the next twelve months, the AIL anticipates that it will provide educational programmes for at least 15,090 Afghans through its centre in Herat. Of that number 11, 770 will be female and at least half will be girls (unmarried females 18 or younger).
The cost of running the centre in Herat for a year is $200,000 which means that proceeds from Merkin Brothers will cover 10% of the cost of running the school in 2003. The school will add new computer facilities in that period and start English language classes.
Steve would like to thank, in particular, Morgan Stanley, and CLSA - both of which bought very generous numbers of the book using their in-house charity funds. He would also like to thank Swire Pacific.