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Entrepreneur of the Month: Zuhal Atmar

30 Nov 2019 Wadsam Afghanistan Business News

Zuhal Atmar, 35, has taken on the task of making Kabul green by setting up a recycling plant where she processes 33 tons of garbage a week. 

She is the first woman in Afghanistan to have launched such a business, and it hasn’t been an easy journey for her. 

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Zuhal says: “People constantly threaten to destroy my business or my reputation,” she said. “I know a handful of men who run similar ventures and they are jealous. They don’t accept a woman doing the same.”

Zuhal’s business is partly self-funded but also receives donations from the USAID program. Her business employs 70 people. 

Her waste-management plant focuses on paper waste, which Zuhal buys from scavengers. Her staffers separate what’s useful and the rest of the work is done by the machines, which Zuhal has purchased for $240,000. 

The paper is shredded, cleaned and bleached before it is dried and pressed into toilet paper that’s sold across the country.

Zuhal says she has received threats ever since she has established this business. Afghan men who have similar businesses have teamed up against her to bring her business down. 

Kabul’s population generate up to 308 tons of trash each day. Waste management is hardly regulated in the city. 

The city targets about $14 million annually for waste management, an amount that’s not nearly enough, says Behzad Ghyasi, the municipality’s former Director of Sanitation Services.

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