When we first met Wasil, his sanguinity coupled with a bright smile and kind eyes were moving. He speaks three languages and is an undergraduate at the University of Kabul where he is majoring in economics. Within minutes of meeting him, we each were amazed at the intelligence and breadth of worldly knowledge he exhibited. His brother was killed by an IED on his way to the bazaar several years ago, and he has since been devoted to his studies in hopes that one day he could lead his country out of despondency and corruption and into a new age of peace, stability, and economic independency. He fervently believes that if Afghanistan had a stable economy and widespread education, it would be impossible for the insurgency to survive. “If people have jobs, they won’t want to fight. Right now, they (Afghans) are hopeless. (The) Taliban will offer them money to do something so they do it because there is no other money or because of fear”. He also insists that a strong education would provide the basis for Afghans to fight the insurgency and stymie their recruiting which relies on the madrassas whose education is founded on radical Islam. When he spoke to us about the women of Parwan Province and their struggles, we wondered how we could help. It was then, that we came up with the idea to sell their scarfs in America and to a global market. His impetus is not personal monetary gain. Instead, his motivation is to create jobs and bolster the economy in Parwan Province in hopes that one day his efforts will have helped his country gain the peace and prosperity which he so desperately desires. Our efforts in bringing handmade scarfs from the women of Parwan Province to the world would be impossible without Wasil.
Jawed is an amateur bodybuilder and a capitalist through and through. He speaks five languages and we often see him flow effortlessly from Dari to French to Russian and back to English. He is the quintessential businessman, and we are convinced if he were born in better circumstances he would be a millionaire by the age of 30. When we approached him about our idea to sell his scarfs online, he immediately grasped the implications of what we were proposing. He offered his inputs on which scarfs sold the best and to what demographic each one was tailored. He thoroughly understands his customers and caters his sales techniques to meet each one. His shop is easily the cleanest and most thought out. While other shops in the bazaar are inchoate, his is reminiscent of an Abercrombie and Fitch store. He has the top hits from the United States playing on his radio, a disco ball dangling from the ceiling, and tie-dyed scarfs hanging from the walls. His shop is always filled with twenty-somethings who simply want to hangout, and he always has chai and Afghan candy available. While other vendors dress in mostly traditional Afghan garb, Jawed is dressed in American Eagle, Abercrombie, and other notable brand names from the United States. He doesn’t know who Richard Branson is, but his business model is a carbon copy of what made Virgin Megastores so popular in the 1970s. He represents the young Afghan entrepreneur and, although he has never been educated on capitalism, he vehemently believes in its principles. It is young Afghans like Jawed who will play an integral role in shaping the future Afghanistan and we at Flying Scarfs want to make sure people like Jawed are given every opportunity to succeed.