Afghan company computerizes embroidery with the help of USAID
When Marya Azimi found that she constantly had to turn away large orders for her handicrafts company, she decided she needed help to expand the business.
The Samangan Women’s Handicrafts Co. in Aybak City, the capital of Afghanistan’s Northern Province of Samangan, was known for its fine embroidered household linen and other similar items. But it was too small to accept large orders and consequently could not grow.
Azimi approached USAID’s Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises (ABADE) program, which supports small and medium enterprises by providing equipment, technical support and training.
In February 2015, the company, which was founded in 2003, received modern industrial-grade sewing machines and other equipment, including a computerized six-head embroidery machine.
Not only is the company the first in Aybak to have such a machine, “it was exactly what we needed,” says Azimi. “Six people can embroider simultaneously and we can do intricate patterns quickly and consistently without sacrificing quality.” Embroidery adds $5 in value to each item.
The new machines gave a tremendous boost to the company’s production, raising the company’s income to an all-time high. And since the machines are computerized, the company further improved its earnings through fewer scrapped items. With greater profits, Azimi hired four additional skilled sewers.
Azimi’s success has inspired other women to pursue their business ideas. “Several women have approached me for business advice,” she says. “This is a new thing for me, but I am happy to give them a few tips and explain what I did it to qualify for the business partnership with ABADE.”
The ABADE program is designed to increase domestic and foreign investment, stimulate employment, and improve sales of Afghan products. A $105-million, four-year project that started in October 2012, ABADE has formed more than 200 public-private investment partnerships so far with small and medium Afghan enterprises.
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