What We Do

Women’s Empowerment

Women in Afghanistan are in general, regarded as secondary to men and as a result of this cultural bias which permeates all aspects of family life, they tend to fully internalise the belief that they are less intelligent

Urban Poverty and Solutions

Zardozi works with poor women in the urban and semi urban areas of 4 cities in Afghanistan – Kabul, Jalalabad, Mazar e Sharif and Herat. About 40% of families joining Zardozi are earning well below $1 per day – eating once a day and then only bread and tea.

Community Business Centres

The majority of employment in Afghanistan takes place in the informal sector where, although there are sub sectors where women’s involvement in production and to some extent, sale of products is traditional, there are also significant barriers to women’s engagement in the economy.

Latest Stories

Canadian funding for Zardozi

Zardozi is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a four-year grant from the Canadian Government through Global Affairs Canada. The funding, which runs from March 2017 to March 2021, will make a substantial contribution towards the costs of Zardozi’s new programme, Economic and Social Empowerment for Afghan Women (ESEAW). Under ESEAW, Zardozi will

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Zardozi explores new regions with latest programme in Kapisa

Late last year, in November 2016, Zardozi started its programme in a new province, Kapisa, in addition to its existing regions of operation in Afghanistan. Initiated in associating with Women for Women International (WFWI), the programme has helped bring Zardozi’s expertise in women’s financial empowerment to nearly 65 clients currently under WWI in Kapisa. Apart

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How a simple sewing machine empowered Seema Gul

For 45-year-old Seema Gul, from Nangarhar province, life was one big gruelling journey. As the sole support of her family of 10, she was constantly looking for work and barely made a living with meagre earnings.  “I was really tired with my life; and was unable to find a single job opportunity that could help

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Introducing Zardozi’s New Executive Director – Homa Usmany

Zardozi is pleased to welcome Homa Usmany as our new Executive Director. Usmany brings with her tremendous experience of working with governmental and international projects and organisations in Afghanistan. Usmany holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Public Administration from the prestigious American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). Apart from this, she also has a PMP

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Nisfe Jahan Store – a new retail shop by Zardozi women in Mazar-e-Sharif

Located in the heart of busy and bustling market, in the ancient city of Mazar-i-Sharif, is little shop called Nisfe Jahan, which in Dari, literally means ‘half of the world’. Their name is a token of positive symbolism towards the women, whose needs the shop caters to, as well as its bold female proprietors who’ve

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Aziza takes her fashion business further with bead-working

For eighteen-year-old Aziza, dressing up was always a matter of joy. However, as a daughter of a school teacher, in a family of twelve, financial resources were always limited. But even in adversity she fashioned herself the best she could, sometimes stitching her own clothes the way she wanted. “Even as a child, I dreamed

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How the Nisfe Jahan business meetings are strengthening

With the help of Zardozi, and a strong entrepreneurial drive, 38-year-old Najma was able to set up her own garments shop in Kabul a few months ago. She employs 15 women as homeworkers and has already developed a dedicated clientele. However, she isn’t very satisfied with the rate of success, and a little concerned about

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Beyond Entrepreneurship: Creating Opportunities for Afghan Women

By Dr Kerry Jane Wilson In Afghanistan today there is a significant emphasis on women’s economic empowerment (WEE) with a plethora of projects aiming to integrate women into markets. With some notable exceptions such as the PROMOTE project, many WEE projects seem to lack clarity regarding the target recipients. On the one hand, there is

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Letter to the readers – The year that was, and things to look forward to

The year 2016 has truly been an eventful year for Zardozi, both in programme and personal terms. As the year closes, however, Zardozi appears to be on course for a challenging and dynamic future. A major shock for all Zardozi staff and supporters was the kidnapping of Dr Kerry Jane Wilson from Jalalabad in April.

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Help Afghan Women Artisans participate in the International Trade Fair in New York City

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Zardozi has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to help us send two of our extremely talented and hand-working women artisan to participate in an international trade exhibition in New York City.

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Najma takes her little beauty shop to the big city

Armed with better knowledge, and her dreams, Najma took a risk and moved her small beauty parlour into the big city.

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Undeterred, Alema builds a future full of possibilities

Being single, never deterred her resolve to be independent. Setting up her dream shop has filled her future with possibilities

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With a little inspiration and training, Sidiqa turned her and family’s life around

“Zardozi opened my eyes and my mind to new possibilities”

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Shafiqa wants her business to be an inspiration and create jobs

“I have more customer’s today because I’ve earned their trust by creating quality products”

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Friends of Zardozi: Indonesian women’s organisation, PEKKA, comes to Kabul for knowledge exchange

As part of a cultural exchange and collaboration initiative, Zardozi invited representatives of the Indonesia-based household empowerment programme called PEKKA—an initiative similar to Zardozi in many ways. This trip was a follow up to Zardozi’s visit to Indonesia in May, 2015, and an opportunity for both organizations to learn from one another. Having been around

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Cab service for women, by women: Zardozi aspires to put women behind the wheels

Zahra takes a cab to work every day—a designated driver picks her up at star 7.40 am, and drops her at her office at 7.55 am, albeit Kabul traffic. He later picks her at the end of her work day at 4pm and drops her back home. If Zahra needs to meet her friends over

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#ZardoziWomen: Being a Zardozi Kadar empowers me, even as I empower others

I am Durdana from Ghazni and I’m among one of the first batch of Kadar (volunteers) nominated by Zardozi. My journey with Zardozi began nearly a decade ago. Before I became a part of the organisation, I operated a small women’s bakery in my house in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi area. I also supplemented my income by

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How Shafiqa’s little shop is bringing happiness to her community

Zardozi loaned her 20000 Afs which she used as initial capital to open a small general store in her garden

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From being a small-time tailor, Rizagul now employs 26 women

With loans from Zardozi, Rizagul was able to establish her own tailoring workshop, multiplying her family income as well as creating jobs for women in her community.

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From friends to business partner—Salima and Fawzia’s chicken shop supports their families

Salima and Fawzia met at Zardozi’s Sajadia Manbeh in Balkh province. They bonded with each other instantly and within no time they were best of friends. Both are married happily and live financially relatively comfortable lives. Salima, 38, and her husband who recently graduated medical school, have four children. Her husband earns 20,000 Afs in

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By taking matters into her hands, Rohina pulled her family out of poverty

The trainings not only helped Rohina improve her skills, but also empowered her with a new-found confidence.

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How a beauty salon in Herat’s Ghalwan village turned into a haven for local women

The beauty salon not only allowed Jamila to attain financial independence, but it soon became a place of social meetings for local women

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Meena’s eye for local fashion trends has helped her tailoring business foster

She noticed there was a demand for Peran Tumban (Afghan men’s outfit) among her villagers. She jumped at the business opportunity this popular fashion could provide.

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Financial independence helped Marzia achieve her dreams

Marzia was never the one who could be content with staying at home, doing housework and raising children. Not that she didn’t love to shower all her attention on her six-year old son; but she also wanted to do more. Marzia dreamed of being able to support her husband and of being able to pay

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Mazar Clients Expanding into Garment Workshops

The organic growth of garment-making experience and market knowledge among Zardozi’s clients over the years has led many of them to be able to meet both the demand for more volume and to be able to compete with the quality of imported garments. Zardozi trainers have found very often that what is holding clients back

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Revamped Training Boosts Biz Confidence

From Zardozi’s beginnings, one of its mainstays in building women’s micro businesses has been the high level of training offered. Now Zardozi has raised the bar with the recent addition of video-based training developed by the DFID-funded Afghan business support initiative Harakat with some help from Zardozi’s training modules. The videos enact scenarios telling the

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New Savings Group Teaches Crucial Business Skill

Until now, Zardozi has supported its clients’ entrepreneurial dreams with interest-free loans. But in an effort for these women and the Community Business Centers to become more self-sufficient, it is promoting the traditional Afghan system known as Kesht. Keshtis widespread in Afghanistan but women are very seldom involved. Zardozi’s Mazar Regional Manager, Ata Mohammad, explained

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Kesht – How a rotating savings and credit system is financially empowering Afghan women

Sohaila, 44, and her family had a lavish Eid celebration this summer—a luxury that they’re not often allowed considering the financially humble conditions they live in. Sohaila hails from Qalai Fatuh, a small village outside Kabul city, and is the only earning member, a sole support, for her family of seven members. Similarly, this was

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Mah Jan took charge as the financial support of her family after losing her husband

Losing her husband was perhaps the saddest day in Mah Jan’s life. “My husband was the most caring and kind person. I spent so many happy years with him,” she recalls with fondness. “We built a life together, even though we had very little to begin with. He was an orphan and lived with his

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From sewing blankets to sowing cucumber, how Pari Gul expanded her business at the age of 50

Fifty-year old widow Pari Gul knew little about running a business. She had spent most of her life raising her seven children. “Two of my sons are university graduates and two others have completed high school. And one of my daughters is a teacher,” she shares proudly. Pari Gul knew how to sew and it

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Zardozi loans enable Amina to expand her business venture in Mazar 

The first loan was seed capital of 12,000 Afghanis to help Amina set up her tailoring shop.

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The house that Karima built

Karima started as a tailor and bead worker at Zardozi. Soon, her talents were noticed and she started to receive more orders from the market that brought with them a steady income.

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How Suhila broke the circle of poverty through entrepreneurship

Suhila took a loan from Zardozi to start a shoe repair shop alongside her sewing business

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Nargis went from being a refugee with meagre income to a job-creating entrepreneur

To aid the meagre family income, Nargis had learned tailoring as refugee in Pakistan

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Sohaila-A struggling single parent

Sohaila is twenty-two years old and is from Herat Province. She was married to her cousin at seventeen years old but the marriage was not a happy one and eventually, ended in separation. Sohaila returned home to live with her parents, taking her child with her. With her and her child’s return to the family,

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Shukria-A civil war widow

Shukria was widowed when her husband was killed during the Civil War; he was returning home from work when he was hit by a rocket during fighting between the Taliban and Government Forces. He left her with six children and her husband’s elderly first wife to care for. When Shukria joined Zardozi three years ago,

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Hakima – supporting a step family

Hakima is a woman who was facing many problems; her husband had been falsely accused of theft and was imprisoned which caused the family severe financial hardship.   Hakima was married at fifteen years of age. Her new husband’s first wife had died and Hakima became a Step Mother to two daughters. At the time

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Scaling Impact in Inclusive Market Systems

One in three people in the world live in poverty. One in five live in extreme poverty. Transformative solutions with potential for large-scale impact are needed. Inclusive pro-poor market systems—including financial markets—offer pathways out of poverty to large numbers of poor and vulnerable people. Market-based solutions build on a holistic understanding of market systems with

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Amina – Supports her drug addicted husband

Amina is a 35 year old woman from Herat province – she is married with 5 children, 4 of them in school. Her husband worked for several years in Iran where he became a drug addict; although he is unable to support his family he insists that that Amina defer to him in every decision

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Fatima – Struggles to be independent

Fatima is now 23 years old and living in Herat – there are 6 members in her family. She never attended school because her father did not want his daughters to go to school. Fatima was 20 when her father passed away and her elder brother who is married became the head of the family. 

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Sima Gul – Supports her family

Sima Gul is the daughter of her father’s second wife; when she was 13 years old her father who was old and sick, married her to her cousin because his sons from his first wife were hostile to the family of his second wife. Sima Gul’s cousin was a day labourer and over the years

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Zardozi is an Afghan NGO which, under some of the most challenging circumstances for women in the world,