Is long Before whiteboards, beamers, and laptops entered modern school classrooms, teachers relied on humble, dusty, and sometimes awkward blackboard chalk, the material that created the success story of Jordanian business. Chemical engineer Salah Aloqbi remembers sitting in Amman’s bus in 1995 and coming up with the idea of ​​setting up a company. More than 20 years later, it has 150 staff and exports to more than 100 countries.

Chalk, a white, soft limestone, was formed when the shells of small marine organisms were compressed on the seafloor. And the landlocked country of Jordan’s Middle East desert country is blessed with vast sediments. “This was a groundbreaking idea,” recalls Aloqbi, now 49, who founded the Jordan Chalk Manufacturing Company.

A worker puts colored chalk into a machine from the Jordan Chalk Company in Karak, about 120km south of the capital Amman.

“When I heard the Jordan Carbonate Company’s radio interview, I was back from work. The calcium carbonate produced by the company is used in a variety of Jordan’s industries, except the chalk industry.” Aloqbi was completely up to that point. I thought of a way to get the added value of calcium carbonate, which is also used in the production of white cement, to reduce the acidity of the soil and make the toothpaste more greasy.

Seven years later, he set up a small factory in Karak Governorate, south of Amman, with two rooms and only five workers, starting with grinding porous material with a meat grinder. did. “But the chalks we made at the time were no longer used around the world, so we started making dust-free medical chalks,” he said, referring to carbonate-based types that contain larger particles. Did.

Workers packed the finished chalk into a box at Karak’s Jordan Chalk Company, about 120 km (70 miles) south of the capital Amman.

Appropriate

After about 2,149 attempts, the businessman proudly launched the correct prescription for dust-free chalk, creating a “very strong export opportunity” and now his company is producing 10 billion pieces a year. Said. Jordan supplies almost unlimited raw materials, and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources estimates that the country’s “limestone assets exceed 1.3 billion metric tons.”

Limestone is a common form of calcium carbonate CaCO3, the main component of chalk. “I think this is an outdated product, but the truth is that we are having a hard time meeting great demand,” Arokubi said in hundreds of cartons to the UK and Germany, Mali and Morocco. Said when I inspected.

Workers packed the finished chalk into a box at Karak’s Jordan Chalk Company, about 120 km (70 miles) south of the capital Amman.

Chalk pieces are offered in a wide palette of colors and are used in art and play around the world. The company has also expanded into colored crayons and statue clays and is the only producer of chalk sticks in the country. Today, the company is located on a 7,500-square-meter site and offers the jobs it needs in a country where the unemployment rate surged to 25%, almost the same as the poverty rate last year.

“Most of us come from villages in Karak Governorate,” said one employee, 28-year-old Sundus Majali. “More than half of the workers are women.” Initially, “it was difficult for parents to allow women to work … but today, especially because factories are safer than other workplaces, the problem is. No, “she said. Another colleague, Alaa Aloqbi, 33, said, “The factory has provided work opportunities when life becomes difficult.” – AFP

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