For many generations, Afghanistan has had a strong handicraft sector, with each region or province offering different products, unique to their history and traditions. Provinces like Kandahar and Helmand are very popular for their handmade caps and Yakhandozi. Provinces like Balkh, Kunduz, Jawzjan, Faryab and Takhar are known to produce beautiful handmade rugs which are well known around the world. The province of Nuristan is well known for its beautiful woodwork, Pakols and Chapan. And of course, Bamyan is known for its traditional handmade embroidery.
Despite all of these beautiful, handmade products ranging from jewelry and clothing to art and rugs, Afghanistan has yet to tap into the $ 718 billion global e-commerce market that is growing by over 10% each year. Much of this is due to the lack of postal and business infrastructure, geographic barriers, and fintech issues. So instead, Afghanistan imported other lower quality products into its own country and was unable to share its beautiful, skillfully made products with the world.
To connect to the global artisanal manufacturing market, Afghanistan needs to participate in the digital economy and global e-commerce platforms. However, current global e-commerce platforms do not support underdeveloped countries such as Afghanistan. They see Afghanistan as too lacking in infrastructure, too conflict-ridden, too impoverished. These large, established e-commerce companies see too many challenges in dealing with and working with Afghanistan. And they rate the risks as too strong against the benefits. No more.
A group of young Afghans have created a platform to fill this gap, address the challenge that the biggest e-commerce giants are reluctant to take on, and do so in a way that benefits Afghans and the Afghan economy. This platform is called Aseel and aims to connect Afghanistan to global trade markets, using customized supply chains, knowledge of Afghan systems and modern technology-based solutions. Aseel enables local artists from Afghanistan to sell their handicrafts around the world. Artisans are able to grow their businesses, empower their artisans, many of whom are women, create jobs and promote the proud and rich heritage of Afghan handicrafts.
Currently, more than 30 craft production companies sell their products directly to the United States, Australia and European countries from Afghanistan. And the goal is to reach every province of Afghanistan, find the artisans who keep the craft traditions and share these wonderful products with the world.
More than that, Aseel wants to bring Afghanistan into the 21st century e-commerce world, making the country an exporter of fine products, enabling small businesses to hire and train more artisans, and enabling each province and city to participate in their own economic development and empowerment.
Starting small, at the local level in cities like Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Aqcha, Aseel hopes to scale up and be the platform that allows every artisan and small artisan business to sell their products to the rest of the world. world and become large companies that create jobs. Aseel’s mission is to create 10,000 jobs in Afghanistan’s artisanal manufacturing sector.
This is a big mission and it took over two years to build a hard-working team, build an online and app-based platform, establish an out-of-country supply chain that could reach the entire world. and launch into the United States and Kabul. Now, Aseel is poised to grow its audience, find more artisans to connect to its platform, and make this company the number one platform in the world to find and buy beautiful Afghan handicrafts. Aseel is up to the challenge, ready to scale, and ready to help Afghanistan enter the growing e-commerce world to create jobs and strengthen the country’s economy.
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