The Afghan Pepper Company creates stability through production and global access. And our hot sauce is amazing.
Recognize that Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing. If the Afghan Pepper Company does not reach its goal, the project gets none of its pledges. Also... every penny of every pledge will go to funding this project.
The idea you are about to back is going to change the world.
You clicking that green button on the right leads to the creation of a legal value chain in Afghanistan making a high-quality, proprietary product for a stable, global market. Farmers grow produce other than opium poppy, demand for barrels and bottles and safe transportation rises, food processing expands, jobs are created, stability ensues, governments are supported by the governed, troops come home. All that and the world has a new, very delicious hot sauce to enjoy.
Please spread the word about this project. Tell as many people as you can.
- Human beings should have the opportunity to live in peace and have the freedom to pursue a productive livelihood.
- Productive endeavors require consumers.
The Afghan Pepper Company
Calling all interested Afghan farmers: The Afghan Pepper Company wants to buy peppers.
And, once we fully operationalize our business, we’ll need Afghan food processors, bottlers, packagers and distributors to make, bottle and ship our product. We’ll also need several other agricultural products in order to make our Afghan Pepper Company Hot Sauce. But that’s step three. Right now, this Kickstarter campaign is funding our company’s second step.
The Afghan Pepper Company has perfected its Hot Sauce recipe - that was step one. Step two is to produce its hot sauce on a commercial scale in a licensed kitchen and sell it according to laws governing such matters. Once we get the requisite backing here, we will buy bulk quantities of our ingredients and barrels, bottles, labels, tools and supplies; rent our commercial kitchen space, mix up our secret recipe, let it age (this is important) and then send you your rewards.
Once we have the experience of making our Afghan Pepper Company Hot Sauce commercially here in the US and the wherewithal to identify our own best practices, we will be off to Afghanistan to establish the value chain where we will source the ingredients locally from sustainability-minded farmers, process and make the sauce in environmentally-friendly ways, and package and ship our product to markets around the world; buying carbon offsets whenever our suppliers should but don’t or can’t.
None of this will be possible without your help.
War sucks. Afghans don’t deserve a continuation of the decimation of their country and neither do other nations’ military troops deserve to fight and die there. I am all for international aid - without it, the Afghan Pepper Company would never be able to operate where it wants to - but I also believe there is a market opportunity to help individual Afghans pursue productive livelihoods on their own terms.
The Afghan Pepper Company is buying peppers. You don’t have to grow them, you don’t have to farm at all. But my company is buying them. We are buying several other crops, too. We are buying bottles. We are buying transportation. Who is selling?
No government has ever controlled all of present-day Afghanistan. Ever. I don’t know that it can be done. Personally, I also don’t know how to fight a war. I don’t know how to end a war. I don’t know how to convince the parties in Afghanistan that I perceive to be in the wrong that they are in the wrong. I can’t even convince my own relatives at Thanksgiving dinner that their political ideas are wrong. I don’t know how to rebuild a nation. I don’t pretend to know. But I do know markets and I know that people typically want to make an honest living trading goods and services with other honest people.
The Afghan Pepper Company is not imperialist, cultural or otherwise. I believe individuals strive for peace and freedom and, from time to time, they are willing to give up one for the other. I don’t have prescriptions for how to balance the two, or advice on how to live or any of the rest. My company is buying peppers. This simple act can and will change the discussion and change the world.
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. He’ll eat fish. For a lifetime. Ummm... yum?
How about: build a fish market, buy the fisherman’s catch so he can focus on his fishing skill and buy his bread from the baker; sell the fish fillets to the baker and candlestick maker; ferment the fish head and tail with some soybeans to make fish sauce. Bottle the sauce. Sell that, too.
One does not have to be both producer and consumer of one’s own livelihood. This is the idea of the productive livelihood: be a fisherman, but do it in an environment that values fish. Maybe in an environment that values fish more than, say, heroin. And, of course, steer your fishing boat away from all the mines placed in your harbor during decades of war.
Afghanistan needs value chains. Agriculture is one link: farmers growing food and bringing it to market. Add to that the links of food processing and bottling and shipping. All of these links have been decimated by decades of war. There are plenty of development professionals in Afghanistan trying to help rebuild this infrastructure. The Afghan Pepper Company will be there to buy and hire - we are the missing link in the chain.
Charity gives a person a fish. Aid teaches a person to fish. But then you need sellers and buyers - fishermen and fish markets - for sustainable existence.
If you’re still not sure how our company is going to change the world by creating this market, here are two resources for you: The first is this link to a Ted talk by Ashraf Ghani, former Afghanistan Finance Minister and 2009 presidential candidate. If you don’t have time to watch it all, Mr. Ghani answers some questions about Afghanistan around 14 minutes and 30 seconds that I take to heart. What he says about private investment and global access aligns perfectly with the Afghan Pepper Company’s market solution thesis. Combine his message with this Oxfam report from 2008 and it is clear that the Afghan Pepper Company is in the right place to fulfill its mission.
In 2007, I was gung-ho to get a futures market started in Afghanistan. So were some other people. From what I had heard, the only crop in Afghanistan for which farmers could receive futures-type benefits was opium poppy. “What if,” I thought, “instead of giving out wheat seed like the standard development model dictates, one asks an Afghan farmer what he wants to grow? And then what if you paid the farmer today for delivery of that crop in the future? This could work.” The problem, I was told, gets to the “peace” side of our first principles: what good is getting paid today to grow a crop that isn’t poppy if you get shot for it? So, yeah. There was that.
Assuming that the situation in Afghanistan would improve to the point where a futures market would be possible, I started a series of culinary experiments. It’s all fine and well to buy Afghan produce, but I would then have to sell it or make something out of it that I could sell. Condiments and chutneys made of pomegranates and muskmelon; dried spices with grapes and raisins - I tried everything I could think of and combined everything I could find. All my experiments were conducted with produce and products from Pakistan and Azerbijan and other nearby countries based on research into what was still being grown in Afghanistan’s decimated farmland. This was in 2007 - 2009 and at the time it was cheaper to ship something to-and-from China three times than to get anything from Afghanistan to the US. Transportation is still pretty pricey but it is getting better.
Through all my recipes, the only shelf-stable and positively delicious product I came up with (all my other concoctions were either one, the other or neither) was my Afghan Pepper Company Hot Sauce. I made the first batch of this in 2010 and it was ready in early 2011. Tasting it, I immediately started aging a second batch (in April) to make sure it wasn’t a fluke of deliciousness. Based on what I’m tasting today, it was no fluke. This Hot Sauce is the real deal. It is awesome.
And then I realized: so what if there is no futures market in Afghanistan yet? A market is a market: it requires buyers and sellers. Let’s just go buy; let’s help the markets there crawl before they walk. Aid dollars are being spent like crazy and if we don’t help install some level of buyers for Afghan goods, it will all be for naught. Recall Mr. Ghani’s belief that $1 in private investment equals $20 in aid - that aid money comes right out of your federal taxes. And you can add military spending on top of that. We must stabilize the situation. This Kickstarter campaign aids in that process.
The Kickstarter Campaign
I am not just trying to make this idea a reality, I am very sincerely trying to change the world. I have set my funding goal at $25,000 and that is the amount, when combined with all my personal resources, that gets this project started at its minimum viable scale. My stretch goal - again, very sincerely - is one million dollars. This amount will ensure I do not have to go looking for funding in the future, it will get this project started at scale, it will do more good in the world sooner and, last but definitely not least, it will break the current Kickstarter funding record of $942,578.00. That is the amount that was pledged and paid by 13,512 backers for development of what looks to be a very well-engineered and well-built watch band that holds an iPod.
Please help me raise one million dollars - with your help, I know we can do it.
We will get pictures up of all of the rewards as they become available; some may be approximations of the final rewards (i.e. bad Photoshopping of labels onto product photos sent by suppliers). The 2 oz seasoning will come in a standard spice jar but we can't decide if we want glass or metal (think jar of oregano vs tin of paprika) - feel free to weigh in; research and choosing will conclude soon.
For the hot sauce (and commemorative) bottles, we are looking at around 5 liquid oz +/- (whereas you are looking at the bad Photoshopping mentioned above) - you can think of this as the standard US hot sauce bottle size.
The knife blade will either be Damascus steel or ceramic - it depends on what ends up being more indelibly imprintable when my knife maker finishes conducting his tests. For the rewards requiring personalization or coordination, we will be in touch with you to get your preferences.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
Every dollar counts! A heartfelt "Thank You!" email message from The Afghan Pepper Company and still more thanks on our Facebook page.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
The reward above and a hand-written "Thank You!" note on an Afghan Pepper Company postcard. Think of it as a very small-format, personalized poster.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $18 or moreYou selected
The rewards above and a 2oz jar of Afghan Pepper Company Seasoning. This is our proprietary blend of spices that goes great on any type of meat, in salads, stews, casseroles or on anything else that deserves amazing flavor. **For international shipping, please add $6**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
The rewards above and a Kickstarter-only, limited edition (limited to the number of backers receiving this item), commemorative Afghan Pepper Company hot sauce bottle. This reward contains no hot sauce, just the bottle as a souvenir, decoration or conversation piece... "Oh, what a lovely commemorative bottle you have there." "Thank you. I got it when I helped the Afghan Pepper Company change the world. I rock." **For international shipping, please add $6.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $44 or moreYou selected
All rewards above and a bottle of Afghan Pepper Company hot sauce. **For international shipping, please add $6 and be sure to check your country's import restrictions before requesting this reward.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or moreYou selected
All rewards above and a (practical and usable) canvas market tote bag proudly emblazoned with the Afghan Pepper Company logo. It is feature rich, with cargo space, normal handles and a shoulder strap. **For international shipping, please add $6**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $120 or moreYou selected
A Kickstarter-only, limited edition (limited to the number of backers receiving this item), numbered, small-format poster packaged with all rewards above in a similarly limited edition commemorative Afghan Pepper Company wooden box. **For international shipping, please add $30**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus a 12-bottle case of Afghan Pepper Company hot sauce. **For international shipping, please add $60. And then double check your country's import restrictions.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $375 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus another 12-bottle case of Afghan Pepper Company hot sauce. **For international shipping, please add $90.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus a limited edition, numbered, very high quality Afghan Pepper Company kitchen knife and apron. **For international shipping, please add $90.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus a framed, numbered, signed-to-you-with-a-thank-you, limited edition, large format poster that will likely elicit a conversation similar to the one noted in the $44 level reward, but the "I rock" will be accompanied by you doing some kind of air guitar move. **For international shipping, please add $120.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $2,500 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus three additional cases of Afghan Pepper Company hot sauce. Each bottle in all five cases of hot sauce will have a second label to be designed by you (with our help if needed). Think of the possibilities! We can put your face on the bottles with a big thought bubble that says "I helped change the world with this bottle." Then you can give the bottles to your employees or coworkers or family members or whomever and be like "What have you done this year? I rock." and then do the air guitar thing again. Then, every time they use that delicious Afghan Pepper Company hot sauce, they will see your face and think; "You know what? He or she really does rock." **For international shipping, please add $200. We are getting close to me just buying a plane ticket to deliver this stuff to you.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus what we are calling "Afghan Pepper Company Founders' Credit." Your name (or whomever you would like to name) will be included on our hot sauce labels, on our website, and in our company publications (from Powerpoint presentations to Annual reports) in perpetuity. Whenever we make a label or have something to show the public, there will be your name, listing you as instrumental to the founding of the Afghan Pepper Company; proving to one and all that 1) you rock, 2) you were instrumental in helping to realize this dream and 3) you changed the world. **For international shipping, please add $200.**Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10,000 or moreYou selected
All rewards above plus a line of sauce, unique from the original, with the name and logo of your choosing (within marketable reason) that the Afghan Pepper Company will make and sell along side its flagship hot sauce. The recipe for this sauce will be discussed and developed by you and Matthew Blake when he takes you out to dinner anywhere reasonably close to Davis, Ca. Yes, the French Laundry is reasonably close to Davis and no, the recipe does not have to be for another hot sauce. It just needs to fall in line with the mission of the company. Let's talk! *You need to pay to transport yourself reasonably close to Davis* **For international pledges, please pick your stuff up from Matt when you meet for dinner. If you really need it shipped, please add $200.**Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)