A group of veterans who served in Afghanistan is launching a business aimed at supporting the country economically, now that their military mission is complete. Based in Chicago, Rumi Spice is focused on using Afghan farmers to produce and market the country’s coveted saffron crop. Corporate officers include: Kimberly Jung, a former Army engineer who graduated from West Point and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School; Keith Alaniz, an Army veteran who speaks Afghan Farsi; and Emily Miller, another former Army engineer officer who graduated from West Point and Harvard Business School. “We strive to provide high-quality, sustainably farmed saffron to U.S. consumers by sourcing directly from rural Afghan farmers,” the company states on its web site. “In previous years, neglect of the rural Afghan majority contributed to the rise of the Taliban, who capitalized on historic grievances.” Investment in agriculture provides Afghan farmers with a palpable means of sustaining economic growth without having to ally themselves with the Taliban, the company’s founders believe.
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