FEATURE STORY

Afghanistan Local Enterprises Expand with Market Development Support

September 7, 2016

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The project helps SMEs and business associations to gain market knowledge, improve product quality and increase their presence in both domestic and export markets.

Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Story Highlights
  • Smaller businesses in Herat Province are seeing growth and market expansion as a result of support from the Afghanistan New Market Development Project.
  • The project, implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, aims to help enterprises access business development services to enhance their productive capacity and encourage innovation through product and market diversification.
  • The project is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

HERAT CITY, Herat Province – White-clad employees in masks assemble medicine bottles and then use a machine to pack them carefully into boxes at a local pharmaceutical factory. On the other side of the workplace, another group of employees examine the manufacturing and expiration dates on medicine cartons. Thousands of bottles of syrups and hundreds of cartons of tablets enter Afghanistan’s markets every day, bearing the company seal of Avison Pharma.

The factory of Avison Pharma Medicine Manufacturing Company is located in the industrial district of Herat, near the city’s international airport. The factory began in a small way, manufacturing only a few medical products in 2011, but has since grown to supply its products across the country. “Our production was low in the past and we produced only seven medicinal products,” says Ahmad Sohail Azimi, administrative and financial manager at the factory. “The size of the factory in terms of number of staffs was also small. Now, 65 employees work at the factory, manufacturing 45 different medicinal products every day.”

Raw materials are imported from Germany, England, Malaysia, and India. The company controls the quality of its products using advanced machinery. With support from the ANMDP, employees are trained to properly use the sophisticated machinery with which they can do an accurate quantitative analysis of the medication components. “Before the training, we could only use the machine in a limited way,” says Latifa Niazi, Quality Control Manager of the company.

The quantitative analysis allows the factory to ensure that medication formulas are correctly adhered to and guarantees quality control, she says. Thanks also to ANMDP support, international and Afghan consultants have taught staff to follow formulas and protocols to correctly produce medications and adhere to international quality standards.

Factory staff have also received training in packing and using laboratory equipment. They have been taught to pack boxes effectively to avoid product damage, and incorporate branding and labeling on products. “Our products have improved dramatically in quality because of ANMDP support,” says Ahmad Sohail Azimi. The company has received international certification for meeting safety, quality management, and production standards.

ANMDP, launched in May 2011, is implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries and supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries  It is a cost-sharing program to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and business associations with access to business development services to enhance their productive capacity and encourage innovation through product and market diversification. 


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Raw materials are imported from Germany, England, Malaysia, and India. Employees are trained to do accurate quantitative analysis of the medication components. The quantitative analysis allows the factory to ensure that medication formulas are correctly adhered to and guarantees quality control.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

" Our products have improved dramatically in quality because of ANMDP support.  "

Ahmad Sohail Azimi

Administrative and financial manager, Avison Pharma

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The factory began in a small way, manufacturing only a few medical products in 2011, but has since grown to supply its products across the country. Now, 65 employees work at the factory, manufacturing 45 different medicinal products every day.

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Increased presence in domestic and international markets

The Facility for New Market Development (FNMD), as the core window under the project through which firms access assistance, operates in four key cities of the country—Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Herat. FNMD helps SMEs and business associations to gain market knowledge, improve product quality and processing technologies, and increase their presence in both domestic and export markets. Other FNMD-supporting activities include a marketing and communications program, core skills building workshops, and supplementary support for developing business plans.

As one of four key targeted cities, ANMDP started its operations in Herat in 2013 and has implemented 280 projects with 87 manufacturing and export companies and business associations. These projects have involved capacity building, procurement, adherence to international standards, and enterprise launches.

ANMDP’s activities in Herat have led to five Afghan companies expanding their product distribution to international markets. An additional 18 companies, including Avison Pharma, have expanded from local distribution to markets across Afghanistan. As a result of ANMDP support, 300 people, including 90 women, have permanent jobs in the various companies, according to Wahid Habib, a business development advisor at ANMDP in Herat.

Avison Pharma’s domestic expansion has been aided by increased marketing, another area supported by ANMDP. Management staff received training in marketing, which resulted in a marketing unit created within the company. “In the beginning, the owners of the factory were reluctant to invest in marketing,” says Ahmad Sohail Azimi. “But since we received support from ANMDP on marketing, we have been advertising on a wide scale.” He says the company has developed a brand, and printed booklets and other promotional materials. Its advertisements are broadcasted on local media outlets, including Tolo TV, one of Afghanistan’s leading television stations.


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