What Happens When an Afghan Carpet Maker Spins Its Own Yarn

Tahira (foreground) and other new workers train to use the new spinning wheels.
Tahira, in foreground, and other workers train to use the new spinning wheels.
USAID
New equipment allows company to create hundreds of new jobs
“We sell the surplus yarn to other carpet companies. Imagine! From being importers, we are actually suppliers now.”

September 2017—Sher Hussain and Ghulam Abas are finally capitalizing on the steady growth in international demand for Afghan carpets.

After founding the Sahib Zaman Carpet Manufacturer Co. in Kabul in 2008, they found their success hampered by the poor availability of wool yarn. Unable to invest in more spinning machines to employ more spinners, the company had no choice but to rely on costly, low-quality wool yarn imported from Pakistan.

In May 2014, the company heard about USAID’s Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises (ABADE) program, which was designed to help qualified existing enterprises to expand. Sahib Zaman submitted a strong application and expansion plan, and was approved for a partnership. By mid-2015, the company had received 400 manual spinning machines from the program and bought an additional 100 spinning machines with its own resources. The program requires that partners make a significant contribution to their expansion in exchange for financial and technical assistance.

“The best thing about our partnership with ABADE is that we will feel the benefits of their support for a long time,” said Abas.

He added that, within the first two months of using the new machines, the company was able to produce more wool yarn than needed. “Our production was almost one-half more than what we use, so we sell the surplus yarn to other carpet companies. Imagine! From being importers, we are actually suppliers now,” said Abas.

As of June 2017, the company had trained and hired 550 additional female spinners, exceeding its target of 500 women employees. It is common in Afghanistan for female spinners to work at home on a contract basis, earning income while balancing other household roles. The total number of employees is now 650.

USAID’s ABADE program ran from October 2012 to April 2017. It supported over 200 small and medium enterprises in 10 provinces across Afghanistan to realize their business expansion plans.

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Last updated: September 12, 2017

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