Scissors and E-Commerce: A Barber's Toolkit For Surviving A Pandemic

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Sherali working at his barbershop
Moni Dustzoda for USAID

Sherali Rashidov owns the White & Black barbershops in Dushanbe, and like many Tajik entrepreneurs, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected his business.

Since childhood, Sherali enjoyed hairdressing and dreamed of opening his own studio. After completing his training, Sherali was hired at a studio and in 2019, he finally saved enough to open his own place.

“The business began to develop, and my client base grew as well,” he recalls. “I started thinking about expanding the business and opened a second barbershop in June 2020. Then the coronavirus pandemic began.” 

Business slowed to a crawl as clients feared infection. Later, a national decree suspended the work of beauty salons and hairdressers, forcing Sherali to close his doors. 

“Even when the situation got better in the second half of 2020, it was difficult to restore my client base,” he says. “I was in complete despair, time was passing, and I still had to pay rent. My employees were also in a difficult situation, but they continued to receive salaries. It was my decision to help them however I could.” 

In October 2020, Sherali’s colleagues told him about the E-ComSys project, which is supported by USAID’s Future Growth Initiative and aims to develop e-commerce in Tajikistan. He met with the project team and it exceeded his expectations. Business experts from the project told him about the development of e-commerce in Tajikistan and its advantages for business.

Sherali was particularly interested in using the MyBabilon mobile application to attract new business. The project team showed how the iCoupon+ part of the application could benefit his business. Sherali took a series of the project-provided training sessions to learn the basics of e-commerce, marketing, planning, and service improvement.

After successfully integrating White & Black's business into the MyBabilon app, Sherali launched his business specific iCoupon+ for discounted goods or services available for pre-purchase directly through the MyBabilon app.

Sherali soon found new clients and increased sales at his barbershop within a short time.

“A mobile application, being a virtual tool, helps me earn money more efficiently than working with real scissors in a barbershop,” he jokes.

“I can’t imagine going to Sherali’s barbershop without a coupon. It's easy, efficient, and profitable. Before cutting one hair, Sherali will look you in the eyes, cheer you up, and always give you valuable advice. These are some of the best qualities of this true professional,” shared Abror Nazarov, a regular client of Sherali.

Thanks to USAID assistance and e-commerce technologies, Sherali's client base has not only returned to pre-pandemic but has increased by 20 percent and is still growing. Sherali continues to delight his customers with new discounts and coupons.

Today, both of White & Black barbershop locations are thriving.

“I will not stop there,” he promises. “I am planning to open a third!”

Through its support for e-commerce development, USAID helped 144 entrepreneurs improve their ability to access finance to strengthen Tajikistan’s digital economy. 

Last updated: January 18, 2022

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