Two U.S. Army veterans are aiming to bridge the gap between farmers in Afghanistan and the international spice market.

Kimberly Jung and Emily Miller, both West Point graduates and military veterans who were deployed in Afghanistan, created Rumi Spice in 2014.

Jung, who was named 2016 “Asian-American Vetrepreneur of the Year” by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOB), served in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Miller was a member of the Cultural Support Team (CST) which helped U.S. Special Forces build a closer bond with Afghan women and the local communities.

“Women know a lot about what is going on,” Miller said. “The CST program was meant to train women, get them out there to have woman-to-woman talks in order to build trust.”

After leaving the military, both Jung and Miller enrolled in Harvard Business School where they developed the idea for starting their own company, helped by their prior experience in the Middle East. The two used Skype to communicate with a friend still deployed in Afghanistan, who knew of farmers who wanted to sell their product to aid organizations.

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