Afghan Women Get Business Credit

Zohra Kazimi displays her wares on the last day of the women’s financing workshop in Bamyan.
Zohra Kazimi displays her wares on the last day of the women’s financing workshop in Bamyan.
A USAID scheme is helping Afghan women entrepreneurs access bank loans and expand their business
Sharifa Ahmadzai’s wool and carpet-weaving business in Jalalabad is on course for a $200,000 loan to modernize equipment and market its wares better. Masomma Ibraimi’s clothing business in Bamyan has received a loan of $4,000, which has enabled her to buy embroidery machines and hire more seamstresses.
Sharifa and Masomma are just two success stories of a USAID scheme that is helping women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan’s provinces access bank loans to expand their business. USAID has conducted nine workshops from December 2011 in coordination with Afghanistan’s Department of Women’s Affairs. The workshops drew 490 businesswomen from Nangarhar, Mazar, Herat, Laghman, Kunar, Nuristan, Kandahar, Farah, Ghor, Badghis, Bamyan, Badakhshan, Faryab, Jawzjan and Saripul provinces. The women’s business needs are assessed and likely candidates for loans are helped to prepare concept notes to apply. They are also put in touch with banks and microfinance institutions. As of September 2012, 21 applications for loans of about $800,000 are being processed. By the end of the first quarter of 2013, roughly 1,000 women will have attended18 such workshops.
The results are remarkable, as Sharifa and Masomma testify. “After the workshop, the training staff helped me prepare the concept notes for a $200,000 loan. The act of applying for a loan is very empowering for me. I haven’t done this before and I don’t feel so helpless anymore knowing that there is an organization that is ready to help,” says Sharifa.
Masomma Adds, “I am buying embroidery machines so I can produce better quality garments.”
Zohra Kazimi, who owns a handicrafts store in Bamyan, said the workshop was invaluable in helping her apply for a $30,000 loan. “This training is different because it is focused on preparing women to get financing. It also teaches business planning and management to ensure success of the business and subsequently, repayment of loans,” she says.

Last updated: January 20, 2015

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