Success Is Extra Sweet When Afghan Company Nixes Candy Imports
July 2016—Most Afghans enjoy candy with their tea every day, so the market for the confection is strong. Strong enough for one candy-importing company to try producing it onsite.
For many years, Mazatoo Food Production Company, a family-owned business in Kabul, imported their sweets from Iran. However, delivery delays, inconsistent quality, and fluctuating exchange rates pushed them to begin producing their own toffees and array of hard candies in 2010.
“We made some bad candy batches at first—it takes a lot of practice,” said Zakia Roshan, operations manager and one of five partners in the company.
While the ingredients may be simple, candy recipes and preparation are tricky. Thousands of batches later, Mazatoo was so successful that they decided to expand.
In September 2013, the company connected with USAID’s Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises program, which creates investment partnerships with small and medium enterprises. USAID helped Mazatoo to purchase a new production line and provided training in marketing, accounting, and food safety and hygiene.
The new equipment led to a significant rise in production and, by 2016, the company witnessed a fivefold increase in sales. Mazatoo has used these earnings to expand into nine provinces, purchase a 2,000-square meter space in Kabul, and install a third production line. The company has also hired 11 new workers, and expects to hire as many as 33 more in the near future.
Manufacturing jobs don’t just boost the overall economy. They are good jobs that create opportunities for less educated people who are often poor.
“When we work for our country,” said Roshan, “it is a pride for us. We are very thankful for the American support, but we know we have to depend on our own people.”
Since 2012, the Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises program has formed investment partnerships with 78 agribusinesses and food production businesses across Afghanistan. The $105 million program runs through April 2017.
Most Afghans enjoy candy with their tea every day. The market for candy is strong.