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India-Afghan Innovation fair at Mazar-e-Sharif promotes partnership to simulate innovation-lead commercial links
The 2nd India-Afghanistan Innovation Partnership Fair held in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan on March 4-5, 2014, to promote innovative partnerships between the business groups and NGOs of the two countries.

The Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) organised the fair with the support of FICCI, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Indian Embassy in Afghanistan and eight Northern Chambers of Commerce and Industries.

More than 40 organisations- 20 from India and 20 from the nine provinces of Northern Afghanistan - showcased products and services in agriculture, mining, clean energy, education, health and ICT.

The strategy was to identify and support innovative solutions being developed, tested and scaled in India, to better the quality of development in Afghanistan, by improving commercial links between the two countries. Organizers hopes the fair will become a regular regional trade meeting that will leverage Indian-Afghan creativity, expertise, and resources for both countries' benefit.

More than 300 business-to-business (B2B) "matchmaking" meetings held between Afghan businesses and organisations and their Indian counterparts. These meetings bring together various actors within Afghanistan's social innovation "ecosystem" to stimulate and facilitate financial and non-financial contributions from the private and public sectors in support of development innovation.

Web-based applications in health and education, new technologies in agriculture and solar products are sectors particularly likely to benefit from Afghan-Indian deals signed at the fair, organizers said.

Innovative solutions helped India in increasing agriculture production, educating many more people in rural India and preventing diseases such as tuberculosis; this innovation partnership will help Afghanistan in doing the same, said Viraj Singh, India's Deputy Chief of Mission.

The fair promoters said they hoped to bring together actors within Afghanistan's "social innovation ecosystem" - meaning inventors, social-venture capitalists, angel investors, donors, service providers, and corporate foundations -- to stimulate innovation-led development.

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