An Afghan woman benefits from networking opportunities and real-life stories at a business conference
14 JULY 2013 | DHAKA, BANGLADESH
Just three days at a business conference and Rabiya Maryam’s life – and work – changed forever. She runs a small company in Afghanistan, which manufactures silk handicrafts, and says she benefitted enormously from the networking opportunities and inspirational real-life stories at the South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Rabiya says the USAID-facilitated trip prompted her to bring about “a lot of changes to my business. I am going to increase my weaving plants from 60 to 100 and I will hire 100 more women.” She has tripled the looms to 30 in the expectation of more orders as a result of the great “marketing opportunity” provided by the conference. “The samples I had taken received a lot of attention. A group of women from Kazakhstan invited me to come to Kazakhstan at their expense.” An Afghan-American entrepreneur also showed interest in Rabiya’s handicrafts.
Rabiya says the psychological impact of meeting other entrepreneurs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was almost as substantial as the potential orders. “I heard about other women’s problems and it made me think that they were working in more challenging environments than I was,” she says.
The conference, which brought together 100 entrepreneurs, buyers and government officials from south and central Asia, was attended by the foreign minister of Bangladesh Dipu Moni, US Ambassador at-large for Global Women's Issues Melanne S Verveer and US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Robert O Blake.
Last updated: January 16, 2015