Tech startups here in Silicon Valley do lots of things: Hire workers, innovate new things, gather up billion dollar paydays. They also, sometimes, break down barriers.
Case in point: Mountain View startup Outright.com is hosting an entrepreneur from Afghanistan this week. His name is Hassan, and he wants to build a company back home that lets small businesses use software to become more efficient.
With help from the U.S. State Department, Hassan, who, like many Afghans does not use a surname, will spend time shadowing each department at Outright, which helps small businesses and self-employed people better take care of their bookkeeping chores using specialized software. It's the kind of tool that's all over the place here in Silicon Valley. In Kabul, not so much.
At least, not yet.
Hassan has plans to go home after his apprenticeship, and launch a similar piece of software for clients in Afghanistan. The guess here is that the two sides will stay in touch, much like a sister city program. With their two respective countries still locked in an ugly war, it's going to be interesting to follow the progress of the student, and his teachers, breaking down walls, with the help of technology.
Scott can be followed on Twitter: @scottbudman