Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
USAID helps women embellishers turn their traditional crafts into profitable businesses
Farida Yasmeen an embellisher from the Swat Valley, is not only earning more living thanks to USAID assistance, but is also helping other women increase their incomes.
Today, Farida Yasmeen, 45, is a leader for a group of 35 experienced embellishers who work from their own homes in Mingora, Swat Valley of Khyber Pakthunkhwa Province of Pakistan. She regularly checks the quality of their work, finds buyers, and receives orders for the entire group. She credits her position to the assistance from USAID.
Before January 2012, Farida was a heartbroken woman. She had lost her husband in a suicide attack and later her two children died from diabetes.
To pull the scattered pieces of her life together, Farida moved from Peshawar to Kanju Chowk, Mingora, with her family. That’s where her luck began to change. “In early 2012, a team from Lasoona came to our door and explained that the American people are helping women embellishers in our area to establish small businesses and improve their incomes and lives. We were overjoyed,” says Farida.
Keeping in view the social norms and the traditional crafts in Swat, USAID, through its Entrepreneurs Project, focused on strengthening all elements of the value chain related to the embellished fabrics, from supply of raw materials, to sales of finished articles.
“Before USAID, nobody had ever thought of helping women embel-lishers beyond the provision of needles and threads,” says Farida. “USAID taught us different types of stitch-work and color combinations and the basics of business management. For example, we learned to do costing and pricing or to conduct meetings with buyers and suppliers.”
The USAID Entrepreneurs Project is helping 26,000 embellishers across Pakistan to produce better articles and to earn more money from them. The project teaches women embellishers to identify products that are relevant to the market, to find better markets and business service providers, and to create new products. Additionally, the project helps these women entrepreneurs link up with local financial institutions to access loans to finance their businesses.
Since now I’m negotiating on behalf of a group, more buyers are interested in working with me, and our incomes are higher as well. We used to earn 12,200 Rupees (approx. $122), but now our income has increased by 83 percent, to 22,326 Rupees,” says Farida.
Last updated: March 07, 2014