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American-Style Baby Swings Sell Well in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, May 21, 2004

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    Najeeba Haidari, shown with her youngest son, makes baby cradles and jumpers that have become a big hit in Kabul. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps Photo:

Name: Najeeba Haidari
Age: 36 years

Location: District 10, Kabul (Afghanistan)

On a recent trip to Pakistan to visit family, Najeeba, a natural entrepreneur, found inspiration for a business that has taken off in Afghanistan. “I was watching an American television program and saw these baby cradles and jumpers and thought mothers in Afghanistan could use them to keep their babies happy and safe while they are doing their housework,” says Najeeba.

From this initial product idea, Najeeba set to work to start a small home-based business. She sold all her jewelry for about 500 Afghani ($10 USD) to purchase the some materials and borrowed an old, hand-crank sewing machine and set to work copy the designs she saw on TV.

After producing a few sample baby jumpers and cradles with mosquito netting, she sent her sons off to the local bazaar to see if they would sell. Her sons came home later that day empty handed but with pockets full of Afghanis and orders for more cradles and jumpers. Her initial idea was a confirmed hit in Afghanistan.

Seeing a need for more seed-money to purchase materials to fill her orders, Najeeba approached Mercy Corps for a small business loan. In October 2003 she received a micro-loan for 7500 Afghani ($140 USD) and started production in earnest. Word about her unique baby jumpers quickly spread and neighbors started lining up to place orders. By March 2004, Najeeba had re-paid her loan and expanded her business to many provinces beyond Kabul.

The whole family is involved in the business. Her eldest sons and husband sell the cradles and jumpers and help with production, while she and her daughters sew and package the jumpers and refine the product designs. And her youngest son, who is almost four years old, gets to test the cradles and jumpers.

Najeeba is already planning to take a second loan from Mercy Corps to further expand her business and hopes to open her own store in the future.