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GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Rafi Ullah, a new barber on Forward Operating Base Andar, prepares U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Johnson, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry and native of Lansing, Mich., for the first haircut at the new shop. Johnson remarked he was testing the service provided by the barber to ensure quality haircuts for all of his Soldiers. (Photo by U.S. Army Capt. Michael Naas, Task Force Iron Rakkasan Headquarters Company Commander)


GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Task Force Iron Rakkasan celebrated the grand opening of two stores on Forward Operating Base Andar Nov. 17.  These two stores are unique from others on base because Afghan entrepreneurs own and operate them.

Nasir Ahmad opened a local-goods store while Rafi Ullah opened a barber shop. Both owned businesses in the past but were eager to open stores on the coalition military base to provide services for the servicemembers residing on the remote FOB in Ghazni Province.

Nasir was a mechanic in Kabul prior to coming to Ghazni. He owned an auto repair shop for the past two years and was a shared owner for eight years prior to that. “Owning a goods shop is not very different from owning a mechanic shop,” said Nasir. “The basic fundamentals of business still apply.  You have to provide goods the people want if you want to stay in business.”  

The former mechanic decided to move his work onto a military base because he wanted to serve the servicemembers. He always liked the idea of having Afghan stores on military FOBs and was very eager to begin work on FOB Andar. His shelves are filled with DVDs, hygiene products and other items servicemembers need during a deployment.

Rafi Ullah owned a barber shop for several years. He worked as a barber in Kabul and Jalalabad for 12 years. Cutting hair is a family business for Rafi Ullah, and he said he enjoys doing it. The job provides him with a moderate living so he can support his family.

Opening stores in Afghanistan can be very difficult for most because landowners require nine to 10 months of rent paid in advance. On military FOBs, no rent is necessary, making it an ideal location to get started. Rafi Ullah says he can use the money he saves on rent to buy all of the equipment he needs, which totals more than $550.  

When asked about his business methods, Rafi Ullah referred to the traditional saying of “you have to spend money to make money.”

“A business can be started with a small investment,” said Rafi Ullah. “But if you want a good business, you have to be willing to put more money into it.  Drop by drop makes the river.”  

In honor of the grand opening, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Johnson from Lansing, Mich., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry, received the first haircut. Johnson wanted to make sure the new shop would provide servicemembers with a haircut in accordance with military standards. Afterward, he showed his satisfaction by saying, “Rafi did a great job.”


Last Updated on Friday, 19 November 2010 02:08


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