Gem Sector Development
Most mountain communities have natural access to semi precious and precious stone mines, but they lack the skills and resources to develop them into sustainable income generating opportunities. Rupani Foundation, since its inception, is making a purposeful strive to alleviate poverty through imparting marketable skills focusing on the marginalized segment of the society. By adopting a holistic approach, mine to market, RF has intervened in a much needed sub sector of gems cutting and polishing along the value chain of gems sector. To date, a sizable critical mass has been developed in gems cutting, polishing, stone carving and sculpture making. These graduates are now working as supervisors, workers, and many are self-employed. RF is continuously putting its efforts into developing a vibrant gems sector in the already fragile environment of Gilgit Baltistan by filling the gaps along the value chain. Availability of raw material in the form of precious and semi-precious stones at the doorstep with a developed human resource base are some of the encouraging factors leading towards the development of a cottage industry in the region.
Mine to Market
Gemstones and minerals have been mined in the mountainous region of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan for nearly 40 years. The mountainous regions are geologically active areas that are advantageous in locating gem and mineral deposits. Rupani Foundation's initiative in the establishment of the Gem Cutting and Polishing Training Centers gives local residents a chance to be involved in not only the mining of gemstones, but also producing a finished product which has a higher resale value. Rupani Foundation provides the necessary support for the establishment of the required infrastructure to develop the Mine-to-Market program for precious gemstones. The objective is to enhance the skills of the local people in mountain communities in professional mining, processing and value addition, standardization and certification, packaging, branding and promotion. These skills will increase market access through links with international auction centers and through participation in major trade expo events. Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) are two of the many local organizations who partner with us in this endeavor.
- In partnership with AKRSP and KADO, the six training centers in Pakistan have graduated over 360 students by 2009
- In Afghanistan, eight training centers have been established in Afghanistan with capacity to graduate over 500 students annually, two of which also handle jewelry production supported by Aga Khan Foundation and GTZ.
- Provided graduates with joint instruction classes in higher skill sets, including master training and production
- Executed MoUs with local partners to establish a line of production units at all training centers in Pakistan in 2009
- KADO has started production on commercial basis involving 25 trainees who receive 80% of the income
- 29 Male Trainees and 2 Female Trainees have started their own businesses.