Large-Format Advertising Advances Afghan Printing Business

Mohammad Saber prints off in large-format using the new digital printer
Mohammad Saber prints off in large-format using a new digital printer.
USAID
Shop produces billboards and posters to get back in the game
“A new revenue stream opened. [The new equipment] significantly increased our sales.”

September 2015—When Mohammad Saber and Mohammad Asif started Zarnegar, a printing press in Mazari Sharif, it was boom time in the capital of northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province. It was 1999 and Mazari Sharif was rapidly becoming one of Afghanistan’s more important economic hubs. Posters and billboards dotted the city, proof of a flourishing advertising industry.

In 2012, there was a growing demand for all types of high-quality, large-format digital printed items like billboards, banners, posters, decals and window films in the country's northern provinces. However, there were few printers in the region with the ability to design and print such large items. Most of these products were being imported from Pakistan through brokers, a process that was not only costly for the end customer, but very time-consuming as well.

Saber and Asif soon realized that the market demanded more sophisticated advertising products than their machines could produce.

“Companies did not want the usual paper-based printing. Many of them asked for large billboards, backlit or acrylic materials—services we could not offer,” said Saber. “We needed a machine that could print on a range of media. Unfortunately, bank financing was not an option for us because of collateral requirements.”

Zarnegar applied for support from USAID’s Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises project in May 2014. In January 2015, the company acquired a high-end, wide-format printer; expanded its workshop; and bought two new computers and print graphics software. The company’s monthly sales have increased by an average of 40 percent. The company also hired six new employees, for a total of 11.

“A new revenue stream opened,” says Saber, describing the immediate impact of the new equipment. “It [the equipment] significantly increased our sales.”

The four-year Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises project started in October 2012. It has strengthened more than 200 small and medium enterprises in 10 provinces across Afghanistan by helping them to expand.

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Last updated: May 07, 2019

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