An Inside Look with Khanaqa Niazi of Khabar-e-khosh: Spreading the Good News
Khanaqa Niazi (middle) receives his Market Readiness Program™ certificate from Carol MacNulty (right), managing consultant for the MRP, and Bill Kruvant (left), president of Creative Learning
High up in the mountains of Afghanistan lies a culture rich in craft traditions, like ceramics, embroidery, and woodwork and abundant in semiprecious stones like lapis, quartz, and turquoise. Unfortunately, years of war has left a majority of the population unemployed.
Despite the hardships, Khanaqa Niazi and his wife have dedicated much of their lives to preserving the rich jewelry-making and embroidery traditions in Afghanistan for over ten years. Together, they founded Khabar-e-khosh, which means “good news,” in Dari to help disadvantaged artisans rebuild their lives, community, and economy after 30 years of war.
When they first started production in 2002, Khabar-e-khosh mainly sold embroidered textiles to women in Afghanistan but after customers expressed interest in matching accessories, Khabar-e-khosh began producing traditional jewelry as well.
Last August, Khanaqa participated in the Market Readiness Program™ Market Readiness Program™ (MRP), a 4 ½ day program that provides intensive preparation for entry into the US market and vital information for building successful export businesses, along other 26 participants from around the world.
Recently, Aid to Artisans sat down with Khanaqa to discuss his experience at the MRP and what Khabar-e-khosh has currently been working on.
Khabar-e-khosh jewelry on display for the MRP product reviews.
What has Khabar-e-khosh been up to since last August?
Khabar-e-khosh has made a lot of changes because I learned a lot from last year’s MRP. It was really nice for me and my business. I shared all my experience with my wife and my whole company. After my participation at the MRP, we started working on producing new jewelry with modern designs. In New York City, we went to stores to see different and modern designs. So now in additional to our traditional jewelry, we have another line of jewelry with modern designs.
Tell us about your experience at the MRP?
Fortunately for me, it was good to meet experts in the industry. Also, when we went to the different booths, saw different designs, and met a lot of different people, it inspired me to come up with new ideas for my company. I learned the process of how to develop new products, which is very useful for my business.
What specific topic did you find most valuable learning about?
I enjoyed learning about how the US market is structured. Learning about product development was interesting because we want to design and create new and modern products for our company.
Laurie Kanes of 12 Small Things (left) admires the Khabar-e-khosh jewelry.
Why would recommend the MRP to small business owners like yourself?
The MRP is a great way to be introduced to the US market and learn useful things that you can apply to your own business.
What’s next for you and Khabar-e-khosh?
For Khabar-e-khosh, we’re looking forward to growing the business by coming up with new designs while also preserving our traditional Afghan jewelry. We’re working hard to get our products in more stores. We’ve made connections with 12 Small Things, thanks to Laurie Kanes. We’re also meeting with a few stores, like Marlee’s by Tappers in Michigan, that are interested in our products.