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Zardozi’s strategy workshop in November 2020

Zardozi has completed a successful strategy workshop in early November 2020 in which representative of Zardozi’s beneficiaries presented their issues and opinions regarding the strategic direction of Nisfe Jahan (a grassroots women’s support organization that partners with Zardozi).

The participants included Zardozi clients who manage community business centers and Zardozi activist women from all four regions, together with Zardozi regional and operational managers develop strategies and plans regarding the structure of Nisfe Jahan and its services for beneficiaries, financial planning, and organizational development. This was a productive strategy workshop helping Zardozi to gain an insight into the views of clients and to develop plans and strategies that are both inclusive and effective.

Zardozi owes much of its success to a policy of inclusive strategy development. These annual strategy workshops are a powerful tool in ensuring that crucial strategic plans are made in collaboration with those who will be affected by them.

To ensure that participants are well prepared and able to understand the issues under discussion, Zardozi provides support to a wide variety of materials in these workshops. Although the majority of participants do not have even primary education they are nevertheless skilled and intelligent women and Zardozi values their input. Additionally, Zardozi runs mini-workshops during the main workshop regarding updates in reporting systems or the provision of new services.

In this strategy workshop, Zardozi focused more on the future of Nisfe Jahan and strategies to strengthen institutional development and autonomy. Additionally, the workshop sought to find ways to make Nisfe Jahan more sustainable and less donor-dependent to protect its valuable impact on the empowerment of its beneficiaries.

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Khalida runs a literacy course in her community

Mrs. Khalida is a Zardozi client in Kabul province who was fortunate enough to obtain her high school diploma before the Taliban invaded Afghanistan.

Mrs. Khalida believes that every woman regardless of her age has the right to learn to read and write. She says that although now we have more girls attending schools compared to the past two decades, still many women in Afghanistan have not had the opportunity to go to school and are now illiterate.

“My eyes sparkle with joy when I see an old lady reading a street address sign or an invitation letter in front of her family members.” She said. In her opinion, all educated girls and women should motivate illiterate women to start taking literacy courses, or at least teach them at home so that there are more literate women in the future.

Since she is so interested in women’s education she takes every opportunity to teach illiterate women; she teaches her neighbors and relatives whenever she meets them. When she joined the Community Business Center in Kabul, she noticed that some other clients had difficulty reading numbers and writing down the size of clothes so she decided to teach them numbers and words.

When Zardozi’s team came to know about Khalida’s efforts, they decided to provide her with teaching materials and also give free books to her students. The team has also appreciated Mrs. Khalida in a ceremony to launch her literacy course and promised to provide free books for any future classes. Two community activists participated in the opening ceremony encouraging women to attend regularly and be serious in their studies looking at this as a golden opportunity towards a better future. They said that although it is understood that learning is difficult for older people if they make learning their priority then they would succeed. One of the activists explained how she had struggled to become literate herself with her youngest daughter as her teacher.

They described quoted the famous proverb ‘knowledge is power’ and emphasized how knowledge can help women to be more independent and more involved in family decisions.

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Adila achieved the dream of having her own tailoring workshop

“When we are in the position of teaching others, we eventually realize our shortcomings and the points in which we lack the expertise that need more practice. I found this reality while I was teaching others how to sew and stitch. We learn more when we teach” Said Adila.

It has been 10 years that Mrs. Adila started tailoring and when she decided to start tailoring she never has thought that one day she would be in the place where she is now. Adila used to go to her neighbor’s house where all were professional tailors and she was just permitted to watch them working until she could pay the tuition fees and learn basics. After several months Adila learned basic skills but she wanted to learn a little more professional things because she felt she had more aptitude to become professional than what tailors were thinking of her.

The only missing thing was the money to pay the fee for advanced tailoring this appeared like a wall between her dream and her poor financial status.

One morning when she woke up she felt motivated it was like a voice in her head was encouraging her to go and talk to the tailors but at the same time, she could hear another voice telling her “no… this is not the way you go because you don’t have enough money and you are not brave enough to talk to the tailors” finally she decided to gather her courage and try to convince the tailors to accept the reduced fee that she was able to afford.

“It was early morning in winter that I run to a neighboring house. Everybody was shocked and said that I was looking totally different. I don’t know what the reason was but everyone including me could realize how motivated and courageous I became” said Adila. She described that memorable day by telling us what she could remember.

“I remembered a lady came to order a garment just the day before and after giving her size to the tailors she left, as it was almost evening so the tailors left the cloth away to sew it next day. When I entered their home I saw the cloth and without talking any words I started working on that. I could remember that I cut the cloth very nicely as all were praising me and clapping for the nice work I did.” Adila shared.

That day onwards tailors decided to teach her advance tailoring and from that day not only Adila was changed but also her trainers changed as they were impressed by her courage and efforts. When she became a professional tailor she was very keen to teach other interested women tailoring and help them to become professional ones, but lack of funds has pulled her back from her dream as she was not able to save enough money for opening a workshop. Since the year 2018 that Adila joined Zardozi she benefited not only from business development trainings but also she could take a loan. Finally, she managed to establish her workshop where now she can provide tailoring training courses.

She is now 40 years old living in Mazar-e- sharif and is the mother of 6 children, four young daughters, and two sons. More than 8 women are working along with her in the workshop, and she earns an average income of AFN 15000 in a month. She enjoys working as a trainer and teaching other women tailoring in her workshop.

“I thank Zardozi for supporting women in business” were Adila’s parting words.

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Zardozi’s Microfinance Support

Business people often take loan for different purposes such as to increase working capital, invest in equipment, maintain business operation, and many other business purposes. A loan like many other decisions in business can be seen by the business owner as either risky or advantageous If the loan is productive it certainly increases the values but when it is not it will become a cost to the business.

Zardozi started granting business loans to clients in the year 2011 since that time our clients in four regions have benefitted from different types of loans. Women use cash loans, loans in kind, and mixed loans to develop their business or purchase equipment and supplies. Women who recently join Zardozi would be granted a business startup loan after completion of three months of membership and business training classes. When their application for a loan is approved by our loan committee and the loan is issued to them, they must repay their loans in installments within five or ten months based on the size of their loans. Around AFN 7,228,000 as cash loans were issued to the clients in four regions during the last year.

It is very pleasing to know that our clients are satisfied with our loan policies and procedures as Zardozi is always committed to set policies that occur most comfortable for the clients.

Based on a quarterly feedback survey that we conducted in March 2020 we found that 91% of borrowers are satisfied with the loan reimbursement policy and procedures, and 94% of them were satisfied with the Loan application and approval process.

“What I like about the loans Zardozi provides is that the payment process is flexible as we have never faced issues in clearing them. All the procedure is well designed to meet our business status. I think we are so fortune being benefited from this type of loans” said Dordana Zardozi’s senior client.

Zardozi does not charge interest on the loans it provides. The objective is to just facilitate the access of women to microfinance supports needed for their business development, hence, our clients are required to pay an amount of AFN 50 for administrative costs incurring in the processing of the loans.

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Zardozi donates clothing to patients in the Afghan Red Crescent Society

October 10, 2020, was a special day for our organization since it was the day, we met representatives of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (IFRC) after several months of waiting for activities resume.

Our activist community leader MsKefayat along with our staff met Dr. Mirwais Akram the acting president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society in the IFRC office and discussed how Zardozi can support IFRC’s beneficiaries. “We appreciate your working with us and supports of our patients in any way possible,” said Dr. Akram

In the month of October, 160 pieces of female clothing were made by our clients as part of tailoring-training classes held in Kabul. Zardozi encourages the trainers and clients to not waste cloths during tailoring instead to make beautiful garments to be donated to those who are too poor to buy their own clothes. Our trainees are not only happy to avoid wasting cloths but also they are pleased as they could take part in a humanitarian activity. “I could hear comments from some of our clients who mostly have a poor economic background expressing how they are happy to donate clothing. They say that due to our financial difficulties we are not able to financially help others, but when we take part in sewing these clothes it gives us a pleasant feeling and our regrets turn to happiness” said Mrs. Karima the vocational trainer about some of her trainees.

140 pieces of clothing were donated to those patients who suffer from mental illness and live in the mental hospital of IFRC.  IFRC picks up these patients who are homeless and living on the streets and provides them with therapy and caring services until they can be either healed or at least kept in a proper place.

At the handover ceremony, IFRC rewarded their female cleaners working in the mental hospital by giving them new clothes as well. Dr. Akram appreciated their patience and hard work in the high- pressure situation in the mental hospital.

Most of the patients in the hospital have to begin a new life after being cured and of course, they need supports. In this case, IFRC conducts some sort of technical training classes for their outpatients to build their capacity to independently earn for a way to live when they leave the hospital. Female patients show more interest in tailoring and embroidery, Dr. Akram asked Zardozi for their cooperation in holding training classes for those patients.

Staff and activists were impressed and appreciated that IFRC can rescue and rehabilitate mental patients and to give them back their lives.

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Zardozi’s clients attend a trade show at Chil-sitoon garden

Zardozi provides a range of services for its clients including Market Development which receives a lot of interest from clients. Our clients complete a training session on business development in order to understand the requirements of their target customers, how to set profitable pricing, sales promotion strategies, and product enhancement; Zardozi also supports its clients to maintain a relatively stable position in the market through linking clients to those customers who are identified as relatively permanent leads for their products. Zardozi introduces temporary opportunities such as trade shows as well, the objective being to increase sales income of our clients and strengthen B2B relations.

Since the beginning of 2020, Zardozi clients have benefited from two trade shows held in Kabul province. A trade show is a good opportunity for clients to build strong business networks and to expand their businesses through joint investment. This also helps them to reach aggregate leads for their products.

“If I hadn’t participated in exhibitions, I would have never met the businesswomen that have succeeded in this field, I have learned new things from their experience and knowledge,” said Bibi Shirin, a Zardozi client.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries in coordination with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs held a trade show for female business owners on September 23 to 25, 2020. The Ministry invited Zardozi’s clients to exhibit their products in the Chil-Sitoon garden trade show. Zardozi’s successful businesswoman of the year 2019  Mrs. Farzana, was among the invitees in that trade show.

Mrs. Farzana shared comments on the first day of the event “I enjoyed talking to the visitors who were very interested in my products and I met some businesswomen who requested me for training on tailoring woolen waistcoats. It seems I am going to have great days ahead.”


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Zardozi activists women work for environmental protection In their area

Zardozi establishes Community Business Centers for its clients in four provinces Herat, Balkh, Jalalabad, and Kabul in order to facilitate women’s access to business supports services such as microfinance, trainings, and etc. Zardozi’s vocational trainers, Kadars, regional staff, and clients gather on visit day. CBCs are the place where Zardozi’s activist women known as Kadars encourage clients to talk about problems and issues of concern in the community.

Zardozi trains Kadar in facilitating collective action to address problems in the community. Most commonly women rise practical issues such as are found in the poorly developed urban districts, where the municipality has not yet extended its services. A poor waste removal services is an issue in many districts of Kabul province.

One of our clients in Char Qalai-Wazirabad said “if the municipality does not remove the garbage regularly, it threatens the residents’ health and the environment as a whole” Char Qalai-Wazirabad used to be a good example of poor waste management – the residents had no option but to throw their garbage onto a piece of unused land at a street corner. Not only residents but others saw it as convenient to throw their house waste.

“The garbage was piled up in a huge mound near the wall and there was a terrible smell. We couldn’t remove all that garbage ourselves, so we needed the municipality to clean the area.” said Zardozi staff.

Char Qalai-Wazirabad’s elders and our Kadars visited the district municipality to solve the issue of the garbage, The district municipality has cleaned the area as part of its services and suggested to the residents that they hire a private company for removing their wastes regularly till the time municipality starts its waste removal services which is already in their plans. Nowadays, the residents in Char Qalai-Wazirabad pay a monthly contribution to a private company for removing the wastes twice a week from their area.

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Ms. Soryia opens her beauty parlor shop by Zardozi’s loan

Zardozi is once again proud of introducing one of its successful and creative clients in Mazar-Sharif to our honored audiences. Here is Ms. Soryia, the lady who had experienced several traumas in her life but never gave up on any situation. Ms. Soryia is a Nidsf- Jahan member living in Kart-e- Wahdat district of Balkh province.

Soryia is known as a proactive and optimistic woman among her friends and relatives. Her family, especially her father had encouraged her to be independent and follow her career dreams. But unfortunately, there were always outside barriers mostly cultural and community restrictions which had created tight walls between Soryia and her dreams.

“Owning a big and well-decorated beauty parlor shop in our city is my dream, and I will always aggregate and utilize all my intellectual and financial properties to achieve it”. Said Soryia.

“Being surrounded by a lot of customers around me, sharing joys and laughter, gaining their satisfaction on my services, and hearing positive feedbacks make me feel happy and more willing to expand my business”. She added.

In the beginning, Soryia used to work from her home and receive customers in the home. Her customers were unhappy with the environment of her workplace as her parents allocated one of their rooms for her beauty works. It was uncomfortable for Soryia and her customers to do their make-ups or haircuts in the home. This matter caused Soryia to lose her customers day by day. She did not lose her hope and tried to find solutions, so she reached Zardozi’s business development advisors to help her overcome this challenge. After a few meetings with advisors, she agreed to establish her new shop in the city and cover the initial startup expenses by Zardozi’s loan.

Initially, she was reluctant to open a beauty parlor shop in the city where the area is mostly crowded by men passengers and there definitely would be a low possibility of sustaining a woman-owned business.

“I had my family standing by my side and strengthening my intention to follow my dreams. This is the reason how I could cope with the fear of the outside market and opened my shop with confidence. Now my family is proud of me taking the right decision”.

This is the first step she took towards her dream and she will have a long journey ahead to achieve all her dreams in the future. Zardozi is always with its clients in each step of their career life and it motivates Zardozi to continue its supports and services while seeing strong and independent women in the society who never give up.

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Zardozi’s loan is financially empowering women to start their own business

Sometimes, it happens with the skillful and knowledgeable woman having great business concepts and ideas but not being financially able to start the business. It has been heard from many women over certain financial shortcomings, not only once, but also many times, their ideas remained just ideas. Due to backward financial status, they had not the opportunity to turn their ideas into a real business and consequently use their talents to develop that business.

Zardozi besides its business training services is also providing short term and medium-term loan facilities for women to start their business. Zardozi does not charge any type of interest on the loans provided for its clients. The loans are used to fill the investment gaps and to purchase required production or service materials for new businesses.

Zardozi’s Investment loan pressed the button on for Fatima’s business!

Fatima is a young independent woman newly established her business of photography in Mazar-Sharif. Earlier Fatima was working in the field of tailoring and embroidery, but she had the dream of running a photography business. Both tailoring and photography were her favorite professions to carry on, but she preferred to take the photography for further opportunity cost as she could earn more out of the photography business rather than tailoring. Fatima is an educated young woman with good entrepreneurship skills ready to meet new challenges to improve her business. Of course, she had passed the impassable ways en-route to her business goals. The capital shortage is one of the greatest challenges she had to meet to start her business up. She was lacking a great portion of the fund to purchase the necessary assets of her ideal business. She was potentially ready to start and manage her photography business as she had attended three months training class of photography and video recording plus passing one year working in a photography shop as a contract employee. But, there was a big challenge ahead; her financial resources were not adequate to complete the requirements of her business.

In such cases, Zardozi channelizes its available loan funds to support women to get access to the financial resources of their deficiency. Fortunately, Fatima was an active member of Nisf-Jahan from 2018 and Zardoz’s clients since 2016; hence, her membership eased her access to many opportunities which business startup loan is one of them. Fatima had purchased two professional cameras one for photography and another for video recording by the loan she got from Zardozi.

Zardozi supported Fatima in distributing her brochures in all nearby Community Business Centers, and also, referred a female assistant from Nisf-Jahan to assist her in the recording of the coming events and ceremonial parties. Currently, Fatima has hired three employees in her shop. She is dreaming to expand her business and create more employment opportunities for people.

“My heartiest thanks go to those who believed in me and encouraged me to start this business. There were a lot of changes that happened to my life which all of them gave me the strength and made me stronger to meet greater challenges and create greater results in return”. Fatima shared with Zardozi.

Now, Fatima is enough capable of running alone a family of four including her mother and her sister and brother. “It feels so satisfied seeing my family is not facing financial difficulties anymore”. Fatima’s expressions.

It is a great joy for all members of Zardozi’s team to see such great success and fulfillment in the life of the clients and their families.

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Kadar helped Sabira to attain her legal rights

It is very sad and disappointing to see ourselves in a state of loneliness while being surrounded by life-threatening problems. It is even more disappointing to not being able to receive supports or understanding.

Zardozi is proud of its kadars, the activity of kadars, and the honors Kadar brought in our society. Kadars activities and achievements are strongly appreciated by Zardozi, as their continuous efforts have changed the lives of many women across the four regions. Our Kadars voluntarily take the challenges and risks to create a positive impact on certain aspects of women’s life in Afghanistan. Our Kadars are a good example of women activists working for the rights of our clients/women in the communities. The Kadars work closely with Zardozi to firstly identify the challenge and problems the clients/ women faces, then shares the problem and try to solve it, secondly, if the expertise rather than what we have at Zardozi, then they are introducing those women to other partner organizations for supports. Such as if the clients need medical assistance they introduced them to the MoPH and their directorates in the regions, if she needs psychosocial and legal support they are introduced to Medica Afghanistan, and so on.

Our Kadars in Mazar-Sharif had brought joy and pride into our hearts. They supported one of our clients in her legal case.

Here is Sabira the young woman who lives in Mazar-Sharif with her parents. Sabira, has a lot to say about her life, the pain and sorrow she suffered are clearly seen in her eyes.

Sabira, was married to a man who used to insult her and always undermine her ability and values for being a woman, Sabira, despite all the frustration and insults from her husband and in-laws, was trying to save the marriage because it was difficult for her to stand alone against the entire in-law and then respond to the society she lives in.

The relationship was getting worse day by day to the extent that Sabira’s husband asked Sabira to leave the home without proper divorce, but unfortunately, the time had arrived and she ought to choose to save herself from further life loss. There was another serious problem that was drowning her into deep disappointment. Yes, her health issue. The tortures, disappointments, distress, and mental fatigue had affected her health as she found difficulties in her body movements. There was serious damage in her nervous system diagnosed by doctors.

Our Kadars started searching for organizations and individuals who could help Sabira in her legal case. Fortunately, after several efforts, Kadars could introduce Sabira to a woman lawyer from Medica Afghanistan, to provide supports to Sabira in her legal case. They all together helped Sabira to take her dowry back from her in-laws and receive the signed letter of divorce. Sabira traveled to Pakistan for her medical treatment as it was advised by her doctors. She covered all medical expenses by selling her dowry. Now she is fully recovered and healthy to start a new stage of her life.

Sabira is hopeful about her future and now she is interested to start her business, Zardozi is also here to support her in her new business.