Education, Health and Well-Being, Economic Opportunity


Phone: 312.321.8663

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Geography: Afghanistan

Founded: 2004


875 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2250
Chicago, IL 60611

About ARZU

ARZU, which means “hope” in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and healthcare by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave. While structured as a 501(c)(3) in the United States and an international NGO in Afghanistan, ARZU operates as a “for-benefit” corporation, using private sector practices to create jobs in desperately poor rural villages where little opportunity exists.

ARZU believes in a holistic approach to sustainable poverty alleviation achieved through artisan-based employment that empowers women. Women, earning fair labor wages, weave exquisite hand-knotted rugs at home. Innovative social benefit practices drive transformational change by providing grassroots access to vital education, healthcare, clean water and sustainable community development programs.


Through direct, grassroots experience, we have learned that sustainable community development involves a holistic approach that fully engages women – a group who comprise more than half the human capital in Afghanistan. ARZU STUDIO HOPE (ARZU) works hard to deliver a complete package: education and job training, basic healthcare and clean water, and perhaps most importantly—hope for a better future.

Significantly, ARZU focuses on unleashing the power of the “Girl Effect” – first through mandatory school attendance and then increasingly through internships to broaden their skills beyond only rug weaving. Girls are the future mothers of the world. ARZU invests in girls to unleash hidden capacity in rebuilding Afghanistan.