Coalition's Vendor Day Helps Afghan Businesses
By Spc. Carina M. Garcia, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 21, 2006 The second annual Combined Forces Command Afghanistan Vendor Day was held May 17 at the Serena Hotel here.
Army Capt. Sonya Heinrich, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan's chief of finance, explains to a local businessman what forms are needed to receive payment for services rendered at the coalition's second annual Vendor Day in Kabul on May 17. Photo by Spc. Carina M. Garcia, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Contracting officers from Camp Eggers, Camp Phoenix and Bagram Air Base were there to inform and educate the Kabul business community on U.S. procurement practices.
Air Force Brig. Gen. William A. Chambers, CFCA deputy commanding general, told participants the coalition has many opportunities for Afghan entrepreneurs. "The Combined Forces Command goal is to help the government of Afghanistan establish itself as a stable business community free from international terror," he said.
Representatives of the joint contracting community explained business practices and cultural business differences, such as how accepting or offering gifts in the contracting process creates the appearance of unfairness. Keeping that simple practice in mind will promote public confidence and professionalism in the business community toward the government, event officials said.
Afghan participants also heard about U.S. military requirements, proposals, training, criteria for contract awards, delivery, invoicing, and payment methods.
This year's event hosted 77 local businesses and more than 165 participants. Businesses represented included construction, trading and logistics. Participants were primarily men, but Afghan women also visited with the vendors to see how they could enter into the growing Afghan business community.
"Now that the Taliban are gone, women are free to own their own businesses," said Tahera Kabulzad, a woman business owner. "This is a great opportunity for all women."
A key element of Afghanistan reconstruction is identifying concrete actions to bring real and practical benefits to Afghan women, said coalition officials.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Deborah Creadeur, joint contracting command officer, said treating everyone equally without regard for gender or nationality is important o the whole contracting process.
U.S. contracting offices have spent $175 million in the last seven months with Afghan businesses.
"This event will continue to get bigger and better, and help with the continuing redevelopment of this great nation," said Air Force Lt. Col. Scott A. Kiser, Joint Contracting Command Afghanistan. "You being here today can only bring us closer to reaching our goal of security and prosperity for Afghanistan," Chambers told participants. "Our mutual goals will create opportunity for economic expansion and create jobs for Afghans by Afghans."
(Army Spc. Carina M. Garcia is assigned to the 345th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)