Nasim Gul has been very busy since graduating from Project Artemis in 2010. She opened her food processing business, Bano Business Co. in 2004, and has continually grown her production capacity and employee base since opening the business. When she came to Artemis she had 20 employees processing raw ingredients into finished food products such as juices and jams in her home province of Herat. She tells us “After coming to Thunderbird I returned home with high motivation to improve. I learned that it is never too late to learn. We can work and improve at any stage of our initiative.”
She has beautifully executed that motivation, and exceeded everyone’s expectations in the process. Since her graduation from Project Artemis, NasimGul has used her Thunderbird knowledge, newfound confidence in her own abilities, and her continually expanding network, along with the assistance of her mentor to grow her business and gain access to additional resources and trainings in Afghanistan and the U.S.
Her value statement concentrates on utilizing the local agricultural capacity to its fullest extent, and creating healthy and sanitary food sources which are all natural, and can be preserved long enough to be transported to viable markets, especially given the limited transportation infrastructure available in the country currently. Since returning from Project Artemis she has worked to increase the quality of her products, professionalize their packaging and labeling process, and found new markets for their products. In addition, she has diversified their product offerings to include dried fruits and new varieties of chutney.
In April and May of 2012 she traveled to New York with the Business Council for Peace, to fulfill a technical training apprenticeship through their “Fastrunner” program. While there, she learned packaging and production techniques that will benefit her business for years to come in her industry from businesses such as DelGrosso Foods and Stonewall Kitchen. Nasim Gul tells us that she would like someday to return to the United States again to continue her education so that she can bring that knowledge and experience back to her country and put it to use in the reconstruction of the Afghan economy.
In December of 2012 Nasim Gul reported to us that she now has 350 employees, over 90% of whom are women. This is extraordinary for any business – she multiplied her employee numbers more than 17 times in just over 2 years!
And she hasn’t stopped there. She is working with the Welfare and Development Organization for Afghanistan (WDOA, a local Afghan NGO) and the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University to build the first large scale cold storage facility in her province in 2013. In addition, the partnership is providing a new building for use in processing finished products, and training in literacy, gender awareness, marketing, accounting, and vocational skills training to the women of her province.
Not only is she providing much needed jobs and training in Herat, she is creating vital infrastructure and a means to get fresh Afghan-grown produce to market. She is accomplishing all of this by applying the skills and knowledge she has attained to create a value chain and market delivery system to Kabul and other markets, making Afghan agribusiness more viable and profitable for her entire province and food security more sustainable for her entire nation.