News & Events
Aug 18th, 2021
I am pleased to announce the founding of the HEF Saffron Cooperative. The worker cooperative is progressive, in that a waitlist of identified vulnerable Afghan citizens will essentially work their way through the cooperative to have the means to flee to safe haven, or to gain the means to support themselves/their families through finance and skill development.
How it works:
Vulnerable persons are identified and brought into the cooperative. The most critical cases go to the front of the line. People selected are trained and assigned tasks within the cooperative such as bookkeeping, sourcing, packaging, Arranging export permits, etc. The finest Saffron in the world is available to us and secured for the foreseeable future. Eventually, the cooperative will extend to own the means of production itself. It works like a traditional business, except that opportunity is for the most vulnerable in Afghan society, and all of the profits are for the worker, or growing the workers means of production. The key that allows this is in the word cooperative. HEF facilitates import & operations, and connects buyers with the cooperative. As of right now, targeted marketing, import fees/costs are the only expenses burdened by HEF. The rest is the cost of time and volunteer work!
When a beneficiary is selected to enter the cooperative, modest goals are agreed upon for that individual or family. We want to achieve equity and modest sustainable prosperity for the human being, not exceptional wealth accumulation. As the beneficiary reaches certain benchmarks toward their goals, they become mentors through our mentorship program, and begin to train their successive benefactor, and so on. This is what we mean by "progressive cooperative".
The stark reality of life in Afghanistan is that many who exit the cooperative will be relocated to a safe haven country. We were well prepared for a return to Taliban rule, but predicted we had more time to prepare for this transition, given that our headquarters is in Kabul City. As you probably well know, Kabul City transitioned to Taliban rule months earlier than most strategic analysts and war planners predicted. Given the lack of resistance by the Afghan Army, and the international pressures and attention the Taliban face, we expect a return to relative normalcy within a couple weeks. So far, we see no impact to operations other than a brief interruption of air transportation that has since passed. Whether we agree with Taliban rule or not it is the new reality in the country and we have to work within this. Our concern is for the most vulnerable Afghan citizens, not politics in the region. We expect to operate normally but taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of our participants.
Risks & Security:
On the ground in Afghanistan:
Given the desperate situation in Afghanistan, we have to go to drastic lengths to protect our interests in the country and greater region. Even for beneficiaries who manage to flee to safe haven countries unavoidably have families and loved ones back home. For this reason, we must exercise do diligence in ensuring the privacy and security of all participants. This is not just true for the supply end, but also for buyers. Our HEF team on the ground is lead by a wonderful and deeply compassionate native Afghan who literally risks his life to support this bold and ambitious endeavour. So far, we have not come across corrupt officials that inflate operational costs and we hope to keep it this way. The entire cooperative for the foreseeable future, operates covertly.
Why the need for somewhat covert operations in Canada?
The high end of the Saffron market is very valuable, yet difficult to source and import. Because of its weight to value ratio, it is attractive business for organized crime and mafias. Since Saffron can be more valuable than recreational drugs but comes with less risk attached, it goes without saying that this is good business for organized crime syndicates. For this reason, much of the high end Saffron market in the West, is held by criminal organizations: We must then plan and operate using guerilla tactics. This is not risk free for our volunteers. But it is necessary and the cooperative is simply the right thing to do. One of our goals is to fully displace the criminal aspect of the Saffron trade in the West, replacing it with non-profit administration, and the Afghan workers cooperative as the sole benefactor.. We have effectively entered into a state of trade war with affected criminal organizations.
We are currently exploring entering into the Kashmiri Saffron market in Pakistan. In Pakistan. Kashmiri Saffron is also incredible taste and quality, and this is the very close runner up (many people prefer it because it is the high end Saffron they are likely most familiar with) to Afghan Super Nigen. In Pakistan, we would use a combination of a volunteer network with paid, permanent workers. The profits, after workers are paid, would go to funding HEF aid projects. In Lahore, we currently assist an orphanage and provide basic meals for 30-200 vulnerable persons per biweekly weekly; We would like to increase our reach here. Another project will be increasing the reach of our support for higher education for the most vulnerable that have promising young minds. We currently only support one such student from a remote village to study for his PhD in mathematics at the University of Islamabad, but would like to increase this increase ten to thirty fold over the coming few years. We want to ensure that young women have the same opportunity as young men.
About the Saffron
We our pleased to announce that we have secured what is literally and near inarguably, the finest quality Saffron on Earth. The Saffron is of the grade Super Nigen and is from the plant species Crocus Sativus (also known as Saffron crocus). It is only the longest and reddest stamens HEFSC supplies. This is an international award winning food/spice and is very difficult to produce and collect. Purchasing Super Nigen grade Saffron from the HEFSC does more than ensure that the sole beneficiaries are those in extreme poverty and at risk in Afghanistan; it also helps defeat the organized crime market for this ancient prized spice. "Bridging equity gaps...one market at a time..."
Pricing (all prices CAD. Please note that we are currently unable to export this product outside of Canada)
Afghan HEFSC Super Negin Saffron
Due to our limitations in production and supply capability, we currently do accept orders larger than 100g. This is expected to change in the future.