I feel particularly invested in Afghanistan and the challenges facing carpet makers there.  When I first traveled to the war-torn country in 2007, the infrastructure for shearing, washing and finishing the country’s primary craft and commercial export had been destroyed during decades of fighting and chaos.  Almost all the country’s rugs were sent to Pakistan for the final production steps.

Consequently, Afghan-made rugs were marked “Made in Pakistan” and the world’s consumers never knew their real origin.

Afghanistan is a major producer of beautiful hand knotted rugs and, in turn, the rug business is one of the largest segments of the country’s economy.  The Afghan rug trade employs one million people and another four million in allied fields and this why we want to ensure this industry remains viable and produces income for the population.

For years, I have studied the economics as well as the practical aspects of bringing this equity producing part of the business back to Afghanistan. My continuing mission is to complete what I’ve started, and last month, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan again.

Amid various insurgent activities and the assassination of a beloved former President, regional security officers allowed me to spend two weeks meeting with over 180 of the country’s leading carpet producers, encouraging them and educating them on ways to continue to pursue export shipments to world markets. The trip was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In upcoming posts, I’ll tell you more about the CARPET EXPORT CONFERENCE and its impact on rug makers in Afghanistan and share and in depth interview about my experience that aired on the local ABC channel’s Lowcountry Live .

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts about American efforts to support the Afghan rug making industry.

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