War-torn Afghanistan has a long path to healing ahead, but one nonprofit, Business Council for Peace, is quietly pushing things along with a smart social enterprise that trains Afghan women to run a soccer ball manufacturing company, empowering them to rise to self-reliance in the process.
The DOSTI balls combine traditional Afghan craftsmanship with 21st-century standards, allowing unemployed widows to not only handcraft the balls but also run the entire operation, from quality control to inventory to export. The women work from their homes rather than a factory setting, which gives them the freedom to enjoy flexible hours and work at their own pace, and proceeds go right back into training and empowering more women. (Labor rights seem to be a recurring theme here this month.)
The project is the brainchild of two female Afghan entrepreneurs, Taj and Aziza, who independently had the insight that women's self-reliance and self-sufficiency is highly correlated with steady work-from-home income. So they merged their businesses into a joint venture and DOSTI was born.
Each ball features 32 hand-stitched panels made of high-quality pleather, is silk-screened with a dove in the colors of the Afghan flag, inscribed with the words "Made by Afghan women." A limited line of DOSTI has just been released for sale in the US, at $55 each -- a thoughtful gift idea supporting a good cause.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.