(ABC) -- Deployed in Afghanistan in 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, four U.S. Air Force captains were inspired during a walk through one of Afghanistan’s bazaars, where they met a group of widows who had lost their husbands to the Taliban and who made handmade, artisan scarves.
Capts. Joseph Stenger, Jonathan Hudgins, Josh Carroll and Ryan Bodenheimer realized they could empower the women by partnering with them. Eventually, they created a non-profit business called Flying Scarfs to help the women sell their goods to Americans.
“They will create their beautiful products and we will sell it in every doorstep in America and wear these beautiful scarves and the story woven in each of them,” Carroll said.
Widowed women in Afghanistan are socially outcast, making it harder for them to earn money. Flying Scarfs’ goal is to promote micro-economic development to provide comprehensive networks of stability and, at the same time, help impoverished women and children.
“In order to rebuild these communities, we’re going to have to empower people,” Carroll said. “And the people who don’t typically have access to capital, money and jobs are women.”
The company made $40,000 in sales in its first year and that money went back to Afghan women. Each gets $10 per scarf after taxes, customs duties and other logistics-related fees. Currently, 40 Afghan women are making the hand woven scarves.