Meet Wendy Summer, the Founder of ZAANHA, an organization that sells unique, finely made artisanal products reflecting the soul of Central Asian cultural and material traditions. She is also the founder of the ZAANHA Fund, which helps send Afghan children to school.

What drove you to sell your marketing company in 2003 and become involved in volunteer work?
I ran my marketing company for 18 years and wanted to do something else. My love of travel, especially to more exotic locales and curiosity about local people whose cultures are so different from our own, peaked my interest in exploring volunteer activities in Asia. I found an organization that needed volunteers with business backgrounds to help women entrepreneurs in countries of post-conflict grow their businesses. Bingo! I found my niche and took my first trip to Afghanistan in April, 2006.

Did you have a plan of exactly what you wanted to do at that point?

What is your favorite quote, and why?
“Never quit,” my father told me. I repeat this again and again through tough times – the satisfaction of having succeeded at finishing a difficult task is one of my greatest rewards and satisfactions.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t reach the goal of a successful outcome, but if you don’t finish, the end result is always failure for not having tried and carried it through to the end.

What inspired ZAANHA’s name?
ZAANHA means “women” in Dari  — the name was inspired by the myriad extraordinary and resilient women I meet not only in Afghanistan, but all over the world.

What three pieces of advice would you offer someone who wanted to start up their own inspiring business?
(1) Have a vision of your destination; (2) Dream big, but start small; (3) Never quit.

What’s the newest, freshest approach you bring to your position?
This is my second career, and I literally jumped in after my first trip to Afghanistan where I met so many inspiring strong women and girls.

Are there any other philanthropic work or charities that you are involved in?
Primarily ZAANHA and The ZAANHA Fund, but from time to time, I do participate in local Litchfield Co., CT (where I live) charities.

Do you have any particular goals or projects for ZAANHA this year?
YES! Our focal point is the creation of a business school for working street children in Kabul. This will be an effort we are organizing with local Afghan businesspeople and organizations and is a model that is the first of its kind.

Learn More About ZAANHA
ZAANHA stresses how important education is for a prosperous future for children. The ZAANHA Fund was designed for a portion of ZAANHA sales to help send Afghan children to school. 100% of the money in the fund is used specifically for schooling needs. The ZAANHA Fund also encourages direct donations.

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