CLOTHING retailer Monsoon has thrown its weight behind a project in Afghanistan to help 1,500 women revive the country’s historic silk trade.
The high street chain will supply looms and training to women in Herat, in western Afghanistan, to help them produce handkerchiefs, scarves and other goods for sale in local markets.
The company’s support for the “Silkworm” project will amount to about £75,000 over the next two years.
Olivia Lankester, the firm’s head of corporate responsibility, said: “Monsoon started out-sourcing hand embroidered silk kaftans from Afghanistan and so this new venture is the perfect way to celebrate our 40th anniversary this year.”
Under the deal, Monsoon will extend a pilot project being run by development charity Christian Aid, which has already helped 3,000 people.
Serena Di Matteo, the charity’s country director for Afghanistan, said: “Women suffered under the Taleban by not having access to education or the freedom to make a living. Market development projects that revive existing crafts such as silk production are critical to provide jobs for the most vulnerable and boost the country’s economy.”
Christian Aid said profits the women make can be reinvested in production, ending the project’s reliance on aid.
Monsoon is also working with the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul and designer Pippa Small to develop a jewellery range, which will go on sale in April in the UK.