Banyan Global operates seamlessly within four practice areas:
In July 2011 Banyan Global led a delegation from the Afghan carpet-weaving and textiles-manufacturing sectors to India. The study tour was designed to upgrade the technical capacity of Afghanistan's carpet industry and increase its competitiveness.
As a subcontractor to DAI on the United States Agency for International Development-funded Incentives Driving Expanded AgricultureNorth, East, West (IDEA-NEW) project in Afghanistan, Banyan Global has been instrumental in developing activities that engage both women and men as actors in high-potential value chains. For example, take the country's carpets and textiles value chains. Women weaving in their homes produce most of the carpets in Afghanistan, supplying small- to medium-scale factories that provide inputs and the final finishing (including washing and cutting). The factories then sell the carpets to domestic or export markets. Upgrading these facilities should improve women's livelihoods. Further, streamlining carpet and textile enterprises' ability to source wool and silk inputs domestically could help Afghan enterprises capture more of the final product's value.
To address systemic constraints within this value chain, Banyan Global proposed a study tour to India. This trip was designed to expose the IDEA-NEW staff and carpet manufacturers to new processing techniques and a vertically integrated value-chain model. In this model, inputs (such as raw silk and wool) are sourced locally and value is added domestically, thereby maximizing the industry's contribution to local livelihoods. By strengthening Afghan entrepreneurs' ability to produce raw silk and spin wool, IDEA-NEW hoped to replace the need for imported inputs, capturing more value for the Afghan economy and fostering the competitiveness of the Afghan carpet and textiles industries.
The study tour team traced the silk value chain from the production center in the Bangalore area, exploring new techniques and equipment for reeling, spinning, and weaving. Silk is a key input in the highest-quality category of carpets; therefore the team surveyed the marketing process for cocoons as well as final silk textiles. It also assessed the implications of competition with imports of raw and finished silk from China, which dominates the global market.
The team observed the production and marketing of a range of carpet-weaving techniques involving wool and silk, from the village microenterprise level to mid- and large-scale industrial manufacturing. The Central Silk Board and the Wool and Carpets Export Promotion Councils also hosted the team, which exposed it to the role government can play in supporting manufacturing and exports in this sector.
Team members benefited from the new ideas and production processes they observed during the trip. For example, Zawahir Khan, CEO of ZKF Carpet Factory in Jalalabad, investigated alternative equipment capable of expanding his production and allowing him to employ more weavers. He also was exposed to new design techniques that he will adopt with the project's support. Meanwhile, Rabiyah Maryam, a woman entrepreneur from Mazar el Sharif, observed the entire process of silk production, which she intends to introduce. She will seek IDEA-NEW support to establish a reeling and weaving facility near Jalalabad, and she will scale up her production of silk textiles to supply raw silk to carpet factories like ZKF.
Participants deemed the study tour productive and informative, and it resulted in networking opportunities and linkages that will serve the team members as they develop their interventions to create an integrated and competitive value chain for Afghan silk, carpets, and textiles. Banyan Global and the IDEA-NEW team will continue to support Afghan entrepreneurs in the years to come to expand their businesses and create jobs for women throughout the country.