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World Bank Retail Store Brings Afghan Crafts, Culture to the Masses


Afghan artisans are getting a helping hand from a small retail shop in Washington D.C. The store, called Pangea, is operated by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, the retail store is giving artists from developing countries a chance to show off their handicrafts to consumers in the U.S.

This store in Washington D.C., called the Pangea Market, stocks handmade products produced by some of the poorest people in the world.

As a result, glassworks that might have been sold in a small shop in Kabul are now finding customers on the other side of the world.

To mark Afghanistan Day (March 21st), which commemorates the country's liberation from occupying forces, Pangea launched its first ever collection of Afghan made products in an event aptly named - "Elements For Change."

Mariam Nawabi, is a business director at Afghanistan Market Development International explains the name, "And the reason they selected the name is because a home element, something that you may put on a table top is an element, but it also helps change somebody's life in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan Market Development International, AMDi for short, Nawabi says the event provides a vital trade link between Afghanistan and the world. "So it is a way for us to bridge culture and bridge opportunity through functional items, beautiful items that people can put in their homes."

AMDi works with Samira Atash of Artizan Sarai, a U.S. based label, which imports handcrafted jewelry, embroidered items and original works of art from Afghanistan. "And we export the pr oducts to America, which is our goal. Initially it was to increase the amount of exports from Afghanistan to western markets. So we are hoping our collection will be viewed by buyers and stores all around the United States to elevate the image of Afghan products."

World Bank Project Director Harold Rosen says the partnership benefits everyone. "It is also a very good way for us to make new partnerships that can help us do the work more efficiently. We are very excited about it and it is a very good way for us to become a more active member of the development community."

By insisting that global suppliers undergo regular inspections to insure that all goods are made without child labor, unhealthy working conditions or damage to the environment, Pangea helps promote responsible trade around the world. It also insures that the artisans who make these products have a ready market for their works.

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