FEATURE STORY

Women’s First Potato Chips Enterprise Tastes Success in Bamyan Province

February 23, 2016

An all-women enterprise in Bamyan Province is finding success in the potato chip business, supplying to schools as well providing employment to women. It is one of many small enterprises across the country receiving support from the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program, implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

World Bank Group

Story Highlights
  • An all-women enterprise in Bamyan Province is finding success in the potato chip business, supplying to schools as well providing employment to women.
  • It is one of many small enterprises across the country receiving support from the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program, implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
  • The program, supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, is providing support to almost 300 small and medium enterprises, and 1,000 saving groups, creating employment opportunities for some 12,000 people in Bamyan Province.

BAMYAN CITY, Bamyan Province – On the floor of the living room is a small rug under a tray of a large pile of potato chips and stacks of plastic bags. Three women are packaging potato chips into the plastic bags carrying the product’s brand and sealing them with much attention and care. After sealing them, they put the bags on the other side of the room, ready to be taken to market.

Zia Gul, 25, is one of the three women in the room working for the Alghochak Potato Chips Association, an all-women’s cooperative. She has been working here for six months—doing a job that has elevated her self-confidence and economic status. She earns a daily salary of 150 Afghanis ($2.30), which is considered a reasonable income for a female worker in Bamyan Province.

“Ever since I began working for the Alghochak Potato Chips Association and earning a salary, my household economic situation has improved,” she says. “Now I help my husband by making a considerable contribution to our household expenses.” She works with nine other women in this mini-factory, located in Azhdar valley, which is part of Bamyan city’s central district.

Alghochak Potato Chips Association was founded by 10 women in Azhdar valley eight years ago. It is still the only women-operated small enterprise producing potatoes chips in Bamyan city. Mariam, 43, the association’s director says: “We began our work with primitive manual equipment eight years ago. Initially, we faced many problems and were only able to fry, package and sell 35 kg of potatoes in the market every week.”

Alghochak is one of many small enterprises in Bamyan Province receiving support from the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP). Started in 2010, AREDP is a program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), which receives funding support from the International Development Association (IDA) ), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). The program works towards strengthening market linkages and value chains for rural enterprises across the country by providing technical support to over 1,400 Enterprise Groups (63 percent female) and 500 Small Medium Enterprises (14 percent female), selected for their potential as key drivers of rural employment and income generation.

In Bamyan Province, AREDP works in Markaz, Yakawlang, Saighan, and Panjab districts. The program covers 45 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), 241 Enterprise Groups, and 1,005 saving groups, creating employment opportunities for 10,992 people


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With the help of AREDP, the women have  learned packaging procedures and customer relations. They can now earn their own income.

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

" Our goal is to get into a position to sell our products across Afghanistan one day, so that people all around the country learn that Alghochak is operated by women and that women can also be businesspersons.  "

Zahra

worker

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As a result of AREDP support, the association’s production output has increased from 35 kg to 392 kg of potato chips per week.

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Production output and sales increase

AREDP has provided Alghochak with valuable assistance in capacity building, purchase of equipment, and marketing, and in introducing it to domestic exhibitions. Last year, AREDP sent several Alghochak employees to Pakistan for a 10-day training course in the professional production of potato chips, which improved their skills in producing quality chips. AREDP also has equipped the association with modern equipment, including packaging, peeling, cutting, and drying machines as well as a computer, scanner, and printer.

As a result of AREDP support, the association’s production output has increased from 35 kg to 392 kg of potato chips per week. “Our work is easier now and sales have increased significantly,” says Mariam. With the cooperation of the Ministry of Education, AREDP helped Alghochak improve its marketing and sales by opening shops in schools. These shops are among the association’s most important sales centers and have increased their sales and production significantly.

At the same time, Alghochak has participated and made good sales in a number of domestic exhibitions, introduced by AREDP. It gained an even greater reputation by participating in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Silk Road Festivals in Bamyan this year.

Further, with AREDP support, Alghochak has been registered with the Ministry of Finance and Chamber of Commerce as a small business and received a certificate of hygienic production from the Ministry of Public Health.

Zahra, 19, who has been working with Alghochak for three years, is pleased with her work and the knowledge she has gained. “Previously we knew nothing about planning, packaging procedures, and customer relations,” she says. “With AREDP’s help, we overcame our problems and now we earn our own income.”

Today, Zahra says, she and her colleagues contribute to their households along with their fathers and brothers. “Our goal is to get into a position to sell our products across Afghanistan one day, so that people all around the country learn that Alghochak is operated by women and that women can also be businesspersons,” she says.


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