Afghanmade Carpets

Using centuries of knowledge and expertise

The AfghanMade Carpets initiative launched by the US Department of Defense aims to revitalize the Afghan carpet industry by introducing modern techniques and creating jobs in Afghanistan at the same time. Member companies can benefit from an infrastructure that includes training measures, quality controls and washing facilities.

During her time serving in the US military in Afghanistan, Lisa Sanchez became familiar with the hardships and challenges that the Afghan people face. When her deployment was over, she could have returned home but decided to continue her work in Afghanistan.: "I didnt want this to be my only experience in Afghanistan, so I volunteered to stay to contribute to humanitarian and economic development programs."

As a result, she now serves as the project manager for AfghanMade Carpets, an initiative founded in 2012 by the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, a division of the US Department of Defense. Its goal is to help Afghanistan's centuries-old rug knotting traditions embrace current trends to compete in the international rug industry. To do this, rug experts are sent to Afghanistan to train local weavers in selecting materials, spinning techniques and contemporary colours and designs. This approach has already added 160 new colours and six new knotting techniques to the existing range of offerings.

Two pilot projects were founded in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat with their own washing facilities and finishing workshops. The goal is to keep as much of the added value in the country as possible. Even today it is still common for rugs to be transported directly from Afghan looms to Pakistan, where they are washed and ultimately end up in Pakistan's export statistics.

AfghanMade Carpets has brought together foreign companies and manufacturers. The majority are US companies, though foreign companies such as Oritop of Austria and Ignacio Larrain of Chile are also members.

So far, the initiative has provided a steady income for a total of 8,000 Afghan weavers. AfghanMade Carpets is also looking for new member companies. By procuring their production materials in Afghanistan, they will benefit from the initiative's training measures, quality controls and washing facilities. Given that knotting capacities are declining around the world, member companies ultimately have secure access to a professional production environment. "Member companies can work with experienced local manufacturers and can spare themselves the tedious effort of building up a skilled production operation," Sanchez says, summing up. AfghanMade Carpets continue to provide matchmaking services for local Afghan manufacturers, connecting them to long lasting relationships within the international community.
aus Carpet Magazin 03/14 (Teppiche)