Mayer Brown represented ARZU Studio Hope, a not-for-profit organization in the US and an international non-governmental organization in Afghanistan operating as a “for-benefit” corporation using private sector practices to create jobs in rural villages in Afghanistan and produce ethically hand-knotted rugs, in an asset sale to Turquoise Mountain, a UK non-governmental organization founded by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to revive historic areas, traditional crafts and communities to create jobs, skills and a renewed sense of pride.

ARZU is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and healthcare through sourcing and selling the rugs they weave. Since its founding in 2004, ARZU has worked to systematically shift the paradigm of a patriarchal society in rural Afghan villages to one where women are economically empowered and literate, with the resources to care for themselves, their families and their communities.

As part of the asset sale, Turquoise Mountain will acquire most of ARZU’s infrastructure in Afghanistan and take over operation of its weaving centers and social programming, integrating them into Turquoise Mountain’s existing Afghanistan operations. This combination of two well-established innovators in the arena of social entrepreneurship will enable increased numbers of skilled artisans, particularly women, to lift their families and communities from poverty and contribute to economic growth, while preserving the incredible culture of Afghanistan.

Mayer Brown is a leader in developing innovative approaches to pro bono work and strives to pioneer projects that will have a substantial impact, both locally and globally. The Mayer Brown pro bono team was led by Corporate & Securities associates Valentine Bleicher and Laura McKenzie and supervised by partner Jenn Keating and included: Pro Bono Advisor Marc Kadish; Intellectual Property – partner Melissa Anyetei; Corporate & Securities – partner Marina Aronchik and associates Stefania Alessi and Allison Andrew; Tax Transactions & Consulting – partner Buz Craven and associate Xiao Xiao; and Banking & Finance – associate Monica Steinberg.