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Burberry lends its support to Afghanistan’s cashmere industry

February 1, 2018

Burberry Foundation's Oxfam and PUR Projet will empower Afghani goat herders and cashmere producers. Image courtesy of Burberry


British fashion house Burberry is lending its support to rural communities in Afghanistan through a charitable initiative with Oxfam and PUR Projet.

The Burberry Foundation and its partners Oxfam and PUR Projet have entered a new five-year community program in war-torn Afghanistan to enhance the social and economic livelihood of locals. The program is the first of its kind for Afghanistan and will work toward empowering the rural communities by establishing a sustainable cashmere industry.

Herds of empowerment
Burberry’s Afghanistan program will see cashmere goat herders receive the training and tools necessary to enhance their livelihoods and lift themselves out of poverty.

Despite ongoing armed conflicts and poverty, Afghanistan is the third largest global producer of cashmere fiber behind Mongolia and China. Afghan cashmere accounts for 7 percent of total global production with the country exporting approximately 1,000 tons per per year.

In rural Afghanistan the majority of the population earns their living through agriculture and livestock, including cashmere goats. Together Oxfam and PUR Projet will work with local herders to develop community-owned cooperatives.

These cooperatives will provide Afghani herders with the knowledge, technical skills, essential services and market access to support sustainable farming and economic development.

Also, the program will promote gender equality in Afghanistan’s rural communities by ensuring women are an integral part of the design and management of the cooperatives. Oxfam and PUR Projet will provide women with leadership training.

Burberry February 2017 collection included knitwear. Image credit: Burberry

“We are very proud to build this program with Oxfam and PUr Projet in Afghanistan to support and improve the livelihoods of thousands of people across the country,” said Leanne Wood, a trustee of the Burberry Foundation and chief people, strategy and corporate affairs officer at Burberry, in a statement.

“There is enormous potential for the Afghan cashmere industry and we believe our program will deliver resources that will go some way to making it a profitable and sustainable industry for local communities,” she said.

Burberry’s community program in Afghanistan is in line with the group’s largest responsibility agenda to support 1 million people in the communities that sustain the wider luxury industry over the next five years.

For example, the Burberry Foundation is helping Oxfam as it tackles poverty in Florence, Italy with a multimillion-pound grant.

The 3 million pound, or approximately $4 million, grant will go toward furthering Oxfam Italia’s existing efforts in the area, which include outreach in education, employment and health (see story).