We supported Afghan businesswomen in enhancing their businesses

Published: Jan 29, 2024 Reading time: 3 minutes
The second international Afghan exhibition focusing on empowering and supporting Afghan women coduncted in Kabul inorder to increase the national businessmen/women's activities and achievements.
© Foto: Jallaluddin Adibpoor

The hall, which hosted an exhibition focused on empowering and supporting Afghan women, was packed. Despite the bans on activities for women, their high level of participation was remarkable. They were all strongly committed to improving their livelihoods, and no restrictions would interrupt their activities. The Kabul Nindaray hall was filled with various traditional women’s products from Afghanistan and abroad. Women participated to showcase their products, market their small businesses, and engage with exhibition visitors. 

Many women could not afford to rent stalls but were eager to participate. This was also the case of Maah Jan, Mushtari and Zarghuna Jan who were supported by PIN along with four other women from Kapisa.

"The Chamber of Commerce department informed us about the second international exhibition, but we couldn't afford the stall rent, vehicle expenses, or food costs, so we were uncertain about participating. People in Need intervened and provided support. They covered the rent for the stall, vehicle expenses, and food costs. Without such support, we wouldn't be here. We are thankful to People in Need; now we can attract customers' attention and eagerly anticipate further support," says Zarghuna Jan.

Connection with customers

On the exhibition's second floor, three stalls were operated by Kapisa women, showcasing traditional clothes and dairy products. Their clothes were stunning, the dairy products looked delicious, and there was a large crowd of visitors gathered around their booths. Zarghuna’s husband looked overjoyed, laughing uncontrollably and unable to contain his emotions.

They could participate in an international exhibition for the first time in 12 years. Before, they were typically only engaged with local customers, but by participating in this exhibition, they had the chance to introduce their businesses to national and even international clients. "For about 12 years, I have worked alongside my wife to provide a better life for our family. We had never participated in any exhibitions, even after the regime change. Even now, we couldn't afford to participate. But People in Need assisted us, and now that we are here, I am absolutely thrilled," says Safiullah Ahmadi.

On the 3rd floor of the VIP Hall, businesswomen from Kapisa had four additional stalls designated to them. In total, seven businesswomen received support from People in Need. They were thrilled about this opportunity and eagerly anticipated learning about new and modern business and marketing practices, connecting with customers and donors, and showcasing their products.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us. We will have the chance to meet other women running businesses who can share insights into modern production and marketing, ultimately helping us improve our products and business. Additionally, we will have the opportunity to introduce our products to donors," said Mushtari.

NGO representatives attended the exhibition alongside traders from Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Türkiye. The businesswomen sold over 41 million AFN ($584,000) worth of their goods. According to a report by Tolo News, they also arranged agreements worth an additional 45 million AFN ($640,000).

People in Need is committed to women's economic independence

Since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Afghanistan has experienced a dire financial crisis as well as increasing restrictions against women. According to the UN Sustainable Development Group, women-owned businesses have been the most affected, with 42 per cent of them temporarily closed, compared to 26 per cent of businesses owned by men.

The reduction in women's access to work led to a 21 per cent drop in their employment levels by mid-2022 and a significant decrease in GDP of up to 1 billion dollars, equivalent to 5 per cent of the Afghan GDP. Many of these businesses produced modern and traditional clothing, dairy, and antique jewellery, the loss of which meant that family breadwinners missed out on significant economic benefits.

Following the regime change, numerous female employees lost their jobs and faced challenges in finding new opportunities to support their families. Since August 2021, People in Need, with the support of donors, has assisted over 157,459 women and 149,420 men in the food security & livelihoods, nutrition, education, shelter, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sectors.

Autor: Jallaluddin Adibpoor, PIN Afghanistan Communication Officer

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