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Women Help Each Other Start Businesses in Afghanistan

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
January 29, 2011
International Herald Tribune

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Khan Agha Niazi stands in his narrow street-front showroom and thumbs through a blue plastic folder full of orders from customers outside Afghanistan. Gingerly removing earrings and a silver bracelet from a wood-bordered glass case, he unveils the jewelry he will soon be shipping to the United States.

In the past six months alone Mr. Niazi has received a steady stream of orders from One World Projects and Charities USA, both U.S.-based companies that specialize in fair-trade goods made by artisans overseas.

One World Projects' buyers say that the company's Web sites sell out of Mr. Niazi's goods nearly as quickly as they stock them.

Mr. Niazi, 46, credits his business success to his wife, Bakht Nazira Niazi. An entrepreneur whose ladies clothing and shawls made by Afghan women hang from the shop's side wall, she encouraged him to start a jewelry line after her customers kept asking for necklaces and earrings to accompany outfits they found at her shop.

Seizing the market opportunity, Mr. Niazi traveled to the eastern city of Jalalabad and engaged a group of jewelers to work with him on designs for his wife's customers.

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