When our Afghan entrepreneurs had their first “aha” moment today, you could measure the ripple of happiness that went through the Kabul mission team.
Fifteen of our Style Road Trip Fast Runners, and five guests–including a representative from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs–braved the snow to attend our class at the University of Kabul.
The day started with its one usual glitch. One of our vans couldn’t climb the snowy hill to our hotel, so half of the mission team hiked down the slippery, steep driveway to the van on the road below. The class started late, but eventually all of us and all of the Fast Runners made it there in one piece.
Kate led a 4-hour product development lesson, complete with profit exercises, pricing, benchmarking, and planning calendar. The Fast Runners grasped these high concepts with vigor. The big moment came when Hossai complained about her high overhead costs, and Kate asked if she ever considered partnering with another woman to bring the costs down. Pop, light bulb, aha! Suddenly an entire Fashion City Industrial Park idea was born. One we hope to explore further on Wednesday with the Minister of Women’s Affairs.
Laura brought Cambodia and Vietnam into this Kabul classroom when she showed real world examples of the embroidered handbags she produces in those countries under the brand Claire V. Laura demonstrated what can go wrong during the production process—everything from inferior fabrics being substituted, to incorrect color ways and stitching.
Both Kate and Laura showed them design cards, and how the specs for a product are clearly defined. This concept was like introducing a bee to a flower. Love at first sight.
Of course Gwendy really set their hearts palpating with visions of what their classes and experiences will be when they come to New York in May. She provided them a list to bring home, to think about, and check off and bring back tomorrow. (Jamie Johnson even provided a questionnaire for their families.)
In the background, Ray was pouring over the passports of the Associates, starting to fill in visa forms to discuss with the US Embassy when we go there on Monday. In the foreground was Paula climbing on chairs and rolling on the floor with her camera. She logged 500 shots today.
And finally, Jim repeated his stunning “How to Make a Profit” performance. They poured over their new Bpeace calculators, and realized how hard it is to make a profit. Jim’s recurring theme was “unless you make a profit, your business won’t be sustainable.” The class was supposed to end at noon, but the ladies wouldn’t let Jim go.
–Toni Maloney for the Bpeace team, February 2005.
Piqued your interest? Read the entire February 2005 Afghan Mission blog here.