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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Peter Foo, M.P.I.A. '07

Nation Building. Google "Afghanistan" and you'll find predominantly negative news. But Peter Foo is helping to make positive headlines for the country's home-grown industries.

As director of implementation for the Afghanistan Small and Medium Business Enterprise Development Project (ASMED) through USAID—a U.S. government agency supporting international development—Foo has been stationed in Kabul since October 2009. There, he and his team oversee and implement projects that assist and encourage the growth of local enterprises through investment and technology transfers.

"Every day, one faces a new challenge, and that is why I enjoy the work I do," says Foo, who manages several teams that oversee 250 grant programs and over 30 specific activities.

Textiles is one local industry that has seen vast improvements under Foo's watch. Previously, Afghans did not have any facility to cut and wash their hand-woven carpets—they were sent to Pakistan for processing. "Many of these carpets ended up being sold and exported overseas as 'Made in Pakistan' carpets," says Foo.

His project established several carpet cut-and-wash facilities around the country to maintain the Afghan label and also lower the processing cost.

"Providing business management skills and internship opportunities to university students in Afghanistan's private sector would have been unheard of several years ago," says Foo. "This is truly an ASMED team effort that made all this possible but I like to think that I made a small contribution to this effort."