Abdul Ghaffar Alaich, CEO of Kerki Weavers
Kerki Weavers was founded in 2002 out of a refugee camp in Pakistan. After a year, they moved their new business to Peshawar where they could lease a shop and serve more customers. They showcased their first collection to customers and were able to sell in the Pakistani markets. Our buyers really loved the high quality of Kerki’s woven carpets, so with that as concept validation, they decided they had good enough products to start a business.
In 2004, Kerki Weavers returned to their homeland, Afghanistan. They wanted to sell Afghan carpets out of their own country and bring money back into their communities. Around the time when former President Karzai was elected president in 2004, they moved to Aqcha in Jozjan Province and established their first workshop. Today, their workshop employs 50 people and they outsource to over 5000 weavers that work from home from all over the country. This outsourcing allows for more members of the community to be involved in carpet production and receive fair payments for their work.
As they started to get their workshop off the ground and with the added support from their at-home workforce, Kerki began to produce and sell more carpets to sell in the Aqcha markets. As the demand for their products increased, they could weave at least 3000 meters of carpet every month.
Kerki Carpets prides itself on the use of traditional carpet weaving techniques that have been used in Afghanistan for centuries. Through the whole process, from carding and spinning the wool, to dyeing the threads, to weaving the carpet, then cutting and singeing it to finish, all steps are done by hand. Kerki artisans are incredibly skilled and take extreme care in the execution of producing their carpets. Their hard work and attention to detail shows in every handwoven knot of a rug. Additionally, Kerki uses natural thread and wool in their products, sourced from local farmers and producers. There are more than 100 different colors used in the weaving of Kerki Carpets, and almost all colors derive from natural products and plants. Their business is family-owned, artisan at its core, and sustainable, too.
Currently, most of Kerki’s sales are conducted through individual requests from private firms. Those carpet orders range anywhere between 1-100 meters, depending on the needs of a specific customer. On average, they receive up to 2000 meters of weaving carpets globally per month. To date, Kerki has participated in many international showrooms, which helps them find some new customers. Most recently they participated in the Afghan Carpet Show in New York City, sponsored by USAID in October 2019. This was where we met representatives from the ASEEL team.
Kerki is looking to expand its business outside of just showrooms or individual customers. Their workshop has the capacity to make double or triple the amount of carpets they produce now. And they recognize that the local markets are not what they used to be. ASEEL is proud to partner with Kerki to help them realize their goals of being a truly international business, representing the age-old and tradition-rich craft of handwoven Afghan carpets. Kerki Carpets wants to be a household name when it comes to Afghan carpets and they believe a partnership with ASEEL will help them get there!