Five years ago, a team of visionary and tech savvy entrepreneurs developed Aseel, a tech-based startup which provides a digital platform, allowing artisans to sell their handcrafted products and provide humanitarian aid to—and from—anywhere in the world. There are also opportunities to fight for the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
How you can support is divided into two major platforms—Buy Good and Do Good.
Buy Good is an online marketplace that links aspiring makers with buyer from all over the world. Handmade goods like carpets, rugs, home décor, artwork, jewelry, and ceramics, can be purchased through their website or via the app.
Do Good allows anyone who wants to assist Afghan families in need to purchase emergency packages, sponsor a family, start a campaign, and/or become a volunteer. Aseel partners with organizations that help provide both individuals and families with basic food and shelter items.
Nyna Ramamurthy has been working as a Growth Specialist for Aseel for the past three months. She said, “As a 26-year-old, I feel I have more of an impact and more of a voice than in previous jobs.”
Ramamurthy shared some of the issues Afghan women have due to the work barriers and their current government and what Aseel is doing to help. She explained, “The country, even before the Republic became more extreme, they didn’t have access to laptops. Many Afghan villages struggle with stable electricity and Wi-Fi is expensive. Aseel is sending laptops, solar panels, and other tools to help Afghan women get connected and expand their knowledge and network. We’re [Aseel] a very international organization. We have Afghan women who work from home. There’s no issue with the government. There are other women in the U.S., refugees, who are new to this area. We connect them with other types of companies. They become confident in their skills and connect with a company to build a career.”
In addition to education campaigns for Afghan women, other Aseel campaigns include winter relief, education campaigns, and an earthquake relief campaign for Turkey. “People can start their own campaign on our website if they see something is not being addressed in Afghanistan and Turkey,” said Ramamurthy. “We take what you say seriously. Seventy percent of our humanitarian efforts are started by people based in the U.S.”
Currently, the project Ramamurthy is most excited for working with is React DC, a nonprofit that came together to assist Afghan allies. Aseel is partnering with React DC to onboard 30 Afghan women refugees onto Aseel so they can open their own shops and sell handmade products.
When asked about challenges working with Aseel, Ramamurthy said, “Obviously there’s a language barrier. My parents are from India. I grew up all my life here in the United States. I do not speak the language.” Nevertheless, she’s learning so much about Afghan culture and shared that Zahra Kazemi, founder of Women Weavers, is one of her favorite vendors on Aseel’s Buy Good platform.
“The weaving they do is almost historical,” said Ramamurthy. “They’ve done it for generations. They’ve put in beautiful handicrafts and sell to the world. We have our own marketplace in India, but there’s something in Afghanistan I’ve never seen before. For an American girl like me, it’s amazing to see such a rich culture. The food is amazing. The art is amazing. Some of these underdeveloped countries, they have so many stories to share.”
Other art favored by Ramamurthy is the work of Ahmad Shah Arts, which can be purchased via the Aseel website or app. The Afghan calligraphy paintings can be customized. “They are gorgeous in person,” Ramamurthy raved.
The Aseel Mobile App
To contribute to charitable causes and/or purchase handcrafted merchandise, the Aseel mobile app is the convenient way to go, to make a positive impact in the world. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store. You can create your account to stay updated with Aseel news.
While the Aseel platform is relatively new, Ramamurthy would like there to be more awareness about what they do, especially in the United States. “You see how Esty connects people,” she said. “I’d like that for Aseel too. We’re getting support. More support would be amazing.”
For more information, visit Assel at: aseelapp.com
Photos courtesy of Aseel.