By LT Russell P. Wolfkiel, USN
NTM-A Public Affairs
Today I was given a tour of three Afghan First businesses in Kabul and it left a real impression of the impact that private industry is having on the standards set for the Afghan workers.
Afghan First is a business model implemented by the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan for outfitting and supplying the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. By choosing Afghan owned businesses and Afghan made products, NTM-A is saving money and increasing the quality of uniforms, boots, and other supplies provided to ANA and ANP and supporting the growth of Afghan industry.
The corporate compounds I visited were vastly different from the neighborhood in which they reside. Deep ruts and potholes are the most prominent features of the roads leading to these businesses. But inside the corporate compounds, paved concrete paths, gardens, and newly built industrial facilities stand to show their progress.
A prominent feature common amongst all the businesses was robust security for the workers. Each business we visited had its own private compound and security guards. Some of the businesses provided even more support for their employees, but basic safety seems to be the number one priority for Afghan employers.
Afghan Vision Group, the first stop on our tour, was the first company to start producing goods for the Afghan First program. They have expanded their production from combat boot manufacturing to tactical gear including packs and hydration systems.
I was very impressed with the initiatives made by Abdul Wasi Faquiri Limited for the care of their employees. When I arrived at their secure compound, they showed me facilities for medical care, an onsite ambulance, dining facilities and other amenities for their workers. The idea of taking care of the employee and providing all the necessities for their health and wellbeing seems very progressive. They also plan to expand the support structure to include day care and nursery services for a planned 200 female employees.
At Meca-Clydesdale, a fledgling Afghan women owned business, I learned about the extreme lengths required to recruit a female workforce. Safety and security are key concerns of Afghan families when they consider allowing their wives, mothers, or daughters to work. In order to hire a woman, overtures need to be made to the family to show that the workplace will be safe and the women secure in the work environment.
Back at AVG, I was shown an extensive line of test and sample good they are marketing to the ANA and ANP in an effort to continue their expansion. But government contracts are not their only focus. They are also working on lines of equipment and clothing to market locally or even export. This entrepreneurial spirit is what NTM-A is counting on to help Afghan industry endure after the Coalition draw down in 2014.
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.