Women Entrepreneurs from Herat Link with Kabul-Area Markets

UNDP Afghanistan: A woman entrepreneur from Herat displays her food products at the Rural Women Exhibition in Bagh-e-Babur, Kabul.

Women from across the western province of Herat are engaged in a number of entrepreneurship activities that include making handicrafts and jewelry, growing saffron and processing dry fruit such as pistachio and almond. Women entrepreneurs from Herat City, and Gozara, Injil, Karukh, Koshan and Zindajan districts of Herat province are particularly active in running and expanding their small-scale businesses.

But the major concern they grappled with was how to gain ground in provincial as well as Kabul-area markets where demand is high for their products. They also had to learn marketing skills to help them connect with their potential buyers.

Highlights

  • UNDP facilitated participation of 10 Herati businesswomen at the Rural Women Exhibition in Bagh-e-Babur of Kabul where they showcased saffron, soap, dry fruit and a variety of handicrafts.
  • The exhibition attracted more than 5,000 visitors including suppliers, handicraft dealers and other Kabul-area business owners.
  • Habiba Karimi, a jewelry producer and Nasrin Anwari, owner of a dry fruit processing business each secured sales of 95,000 and 100,000 Afghanis respectively at this exhibition.
  • “We learned how to set up our booths, what products to showcase and how to attract attention of our potential buyers in an exhibition like this,” said Ms. Karimi.
  • Ms. Karimi employs 50 women in her small-scale handicrafts facility with each earning an average of 5k Afghanis a month, while Ms. Anwari has created jobs for 23 women, each earning an average monthly income of 3.5k Afghanis.

Since 2011, United National Development Programme (UNDP) through its Gender Equality Project trained nearly 200 women in Herat in making jewelries and handicrafts, growing cotton, sewing garments and skills to market their products and expand their businesses. Additionally, nine businesswomen have been sponsored to take part in exhibits abroad.

Recently, UNDP facilitated participation of 10 Herati businesswomen at the Rural Women Exhibition in Bagh-e-Babur of Kabul where they showcased saffron, soap, dry fruit and a variety of handicrafts consisting of jewelries, silk garments and hand embroidered dresses. During the two day, the exhibition attracted more than 5,000 visitors including suppliers, handicraft dealers and other Kabul-area business owners interested in products of these women.

Each of the participating businesses sold an average of 100,000 Afghanis worth of their products and established useful links with handicrafts stores and dry fruit dealers from Kabul markets. Among the participants were, Habiba Karimi, a jewelry producer and Nasrin Anwari, owner of a dry fruit processing business, who showcased their products at the Kabul exhibit and each secured sales of 95,000 and 100,000 Afghanis respectively.

We learned how to set up our booths, what products to showcase and how to attract attention of our potential buyers in an exhibition like this,” said Ms. Karimi. “Despite the disappointing market situation, the exhibit helped us sell our products and enjoy profitable deals.”

Ms. Karimi forged several business links during the two-day exhibit with a good number of dealers in Kabul. After her return to Herat, she has been able to supply 110 sets of jewelry and 60 sets of bathroom accessories to three separate vendors in Kabul. She’s optimistic that the demand for her products will further grow that will expand her business network and bring her profitable deals.

Ms. Anwari is also satisfied with her business exposure at the Kabul exhibit that helped her sign a contract with a Kabul dry fruit dealer. “In the first shipment, I supplied 100Kg of pistachio and 50Kg of almond to the dealer,” said Ms. Anwari. “I expect to fill even more orders for the same products as well as dry flowers from the same vendor in Kabul.”

Ms. Karimi employs 50 women in her small-scale handicrafts facility with each earning an average of 5,000 Afghanis a month, while Ms. Anwari has created jobs for 23 women, each earning an average monthly income of 3,500 Afghanis.

Both Ms. Karimi and Ms. Anwari support their family with the income from their businesses. Each having six children, their money is mostly spent on putting their children through school and buying them food and clothes.

UNDP’s Gender Equality Project focuses on three major issues that Afghan women face: lack of or weak support provided to women’s rights through policies and legal documents; feeble participation of women in the economic activities; and limited access to justice and human rights systems due to the weakness of the judicial system.

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