BUSINESSWOMAN BUILDS COMPANY AND COUNTRY
Steady profits and personal satisfaction motivate entrepreneurs worldwide, but Afghan entrepreneurs like Kamila Sidiqi have an added impetus to building a successful business. They feel a responsibility to use their business acumen to create much needed jobs and strengthen their country’s economy.
Sidiqi becan Naweyan Nawed Ltd. in September 2012 to export Afghanistan’s dried fruits and nuts. The business was an opportunity to build on Afghanistan’s promising agricultural sector and to change the country’s economic landscape.
“This business is good for me, but it’s not only about me. I am an etrepreneur, so I can make money anywhere,” said Sidiqi, who holds a dual Afghan-British citizenship. “I started this business because I was thinking of how I could create more jobs. IN Afghanistan, it’s important to create jobs for men and women.”
With sidiqi’s dedication and support from Roots of Peace and USAID, her company is thriving. Naweyan Nawed recently signed a significant contract to export raisins to Kazakhstan, Central Asial’s largest economy with vast export potential for Afghan produce. USAID provided a vital trade incentive by converting part of the transport packaging costs of the first shipment. Earlier in 2013, Sidiqi attended the Gulfood Exhibition in Dubai with Roots of Peace support. She signed an important deal to export raisins to Saudi Arabia. Roots of Peace covered a portion of the transport and packaging of the first shipment and provided support in sorting and grading.
Sidiqi’s company employs up to 75 women and 25 men, and she is seeking to expand her business and improve the quality of life of her staff, women in particular. She has a remarkable track record of success; her first endeavor, chronicled in a book called” The Dressmaker of Khair Khana,” was a dress-making business run from her Kabul home in the 1990s. The business employed her sisters and neighborhood women.
“A lot of women are involved in production in Afghanistan,” said Sidiqi. “My hope is one day we will have a great environment for our women workers. My aim is not just making money, I think about the workers in the factory too. They are very poor people, and I want them to have a good life.”