"Safi's secret weapon is the Afghan people...From the time they are children, Afghans learn to weave ornate textiles and apparel that burst with color and complexity."
Safi is the Arabic word for "light." Since its founding seventeen years ago, Safi Apparel Corporation has lit an oasis of progress in Afghanistan.
Safi was a founding participant in NATO’s “Afghan First Initiative,” which sought to create local supply chains capable of supporting the vast needs of Afghan security forces. A primary objective was to develop skills and create economic opportunities for Afghan women.
As fate would have it, a group of Americans with decades of textile experience and long ties to Afghanistan believed that, despite the country’s history of conflict, Afghanistan could develop a successful textile industry. With a mix of private investment and seed funding from the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the group formed Safi Apparel Corporation.
Safi won a trial contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), a major supporter of the Afghan First Program, to produce uniforms for the fledgeling Afghan military. DoD and NATO officials were amazed by the quality of Safi's work and its ability to meet deadlines. So they gave Safi bigger orders.
Safi went on to employ some 1,400 Afghans with production capacity of 60,000 uniforms per month. Eighty-five percent of the workforce were women, most of whom were war widows with no steady source of income.
The Safi staff took immense pride in their work. They made the very uniforms Afghan soldiers would wear while defending Afghanistan, while their salaries could support families that were struggling to survive. Safi clients know they're getting the same price, quality and service available anywhere -- but they also take pride knowing how others have profited when their orders say "Made in Afghanistan."
Safi Apparel: An Oasis Of Progress
Safi is committed to exceeding the apparel industry's international guidelines for safety, human rights, fair trade and environmental impact -- not because we have to, because we want to. After decades of repression, Afghan women have fought hard for their equality. The Safi factory is a safe haven where they can continue their path to self determination. Our employee training process mandates dignity and respect between male and female employees as a fundamental requirement for employment.
From the day production began, Safi had to meet stricter compliance standards than most other apparel companies would ever face. How did we do it? First we recruited 70 English-speaking managers and sent them abroad to learn the industry's premier best practices. Then we let them recruit and train their own staff on our factory's state-of-the-art machinery. The result? DoD and NATO inspectors were amazed at how quickly Safi employees mastered their craft and began promoting us as "The Poster Child" of the Afghan First Program. Safi didn't just meet the standards -- we were the new standard.
Safi's founding board of directors and senior management are still in place, and we still occupy the same 5-acre campus that we began from seventeen years ago. In 2018, after a careful review of our human rights and business plans, OPIC extended Safi another round of financing to diversify operations. Now Safi can produce just about anything that is woven, including complex and custom apparel. We are fully insured and offer the best guarantee any manufacturer can: 100 percent.