Trading in the Midst of War
ISHKAR founders Edmund Le Brun and Flore de Taisne discuss the challenges and opportunities of building a business which trades exclusively with artisans in countries at war.
ISHKAR is an award-winning social enterprise which is proving that trade with countries at war is not only possible, but can be socially beneficial and profitable too. This talk tells their story.
Founded in 2016, ISHKAR travels to conflict zones to seek out master artisans whose ancestral skills are in danger of dying out. Joining forces with local and international designers, ISHKAR then creates new collections, connecting once isolated artisans with international markets around the world.
Tapping into an ever-expanding consumer demand for ethically produced goods has its rewards. However, ISHKAR’s work carries great risks too, from finding ways to bypass corrupt customs officials to working with contracts based on trust rather than law. In theory, the countries ISHKAR trade with benefit from preferential trade agreements with the UK, but in practice these are rarely recognised or properly understood. Simmons & Simmons has worked with ISHKAR to identify what treaties are in place for trading with Afghanistan so that ISHKAR, and other like-minded businesses, can make the most of these and create maximum economic opportunity in conflict zones.