Category Archives: Featured Stories

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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 in 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.


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Masuma is managing her business well within the current social norms

Masuma 26 years young women have joined Zardozi’s business center in Mazar Sharif in the year 2018, here, you can find out how Masuma, developed her business from basic sewing to advanced tailoring since she joined Zardozi’s team. Tailoring is now Masuma’s merely occupation and she loves her profession. At the beginning, she might have faced numerous challenges like many other self-employed women in Afghanistan but what is interesting about this lady is she could develop her business too quickly within one year. Her personal efforts and her family has been her greatest motivation and have played a vital role in her success.

Masuma, lost her parents long ago in Afghanistan’s civil war and she had to look after her younger brother and sisters as she is the oldest member of her family. Generally, being responsible for the survival of family is the heaviest load on one’s shoulder but in specific as a woman, taking this responsibility requires a lot of courage and efforts, it is even harder to pursue on this responsibility in a man dominated and rigid culture in a society like an afghan society where the old traditions are being practiced. In our society it is too challenging for an uneducated woman to find  job in today’s job market, firstly and secondly

even if she finds a job it would be so difficult for young women to keep up the job due to social and cultural norms, (working outside for a woman is not acceptable by many families and communities in Afghanistan). Therefore, women feel more secure and comfortable to undertake home-based jobs rather than working outside the home. However, even Self-employed women in Afghanistan are confronted with many conflicts as they must conform to boundaries and social expectations.

Economic necessity, illiteracy, and social norms had led most of the afghan women to choose tailoring as their profession and as a source of income.

The research by AREU in 2014 has shown tailoring occupation constitutes 25.1% of the total urban market labor participation in Afghanistan, out of which women tailors constitute 68% of the whole tailors’ community.

Masuma used to think it is impossible to earn sufficient money through working from home, so she was seeking a job outside her home to financially support her family. She became disappointed until she found Zardozi members. There, she had access to a professional trainer and business development advisors by which she could come up with a great idea of starting her own business of tailoring in her home. She could engage her siblings to assist her in her new business at home. It was more acceptable for her society and more comfortable for Masuma, and her siblings to take their business at home and earn money through it. During the last six months, Masuma had earned 40000 AFN as her net profit by which she could pay the expenses of her brother’s wedding and purchase raw materials for her business. Currently, two home producers and two-family members are working with Masuma in her business.

She proudly speaks this out now that no matter whether you are working from home or outside, you just need to value your ability and the courage to move on.

 

 


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Kubra’s business at the rough time of COVID 19

Meet Mrs. Kubra a senior and active client of zardozi, who has been beneficiary of zardozi programs for almost 12 years. Mrs. Kubra proudly has developed a business of handicrafts in Kabul province. It took her a lot of sincere efforts to establish and run her own business with great successes during the last 10 years. She has formally registered her handicraft business with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan. Hence, she could be addressed as an effective Afghan businesswoman in the market of handicraft and tailoring business. She has certainly an important role in providing employment opportunities for other Afghan women and in the improvement of public revenue by paying business return taxes.

Kubra like many other Afghan women has faced brute challenges in the early stages of her business, as she was suffering from lack of business management skills and weak communication and marketing strategies. Zardozi training programs had helped her to transform her business idea into a real business. Kubra had shown great talents and interests in networking and business communications, she had improved her leadership and business development skills through active participation in almost all training sessions held by Zardozi’s CBC in Kabul.

She is now running her business with excellent leadership skills as she is managing over 65 women in this business, she is helping other women to earn independently and improve their lives. One of the greatest points about Mrs. Kubra is that she always stays connected with the Zardozi marketing team since she could well utilize the business opportunities identified by the marketing team. During the COVID 19 lockdown period, she has got many orders of preparing facemasks for Finka Bank “the client linked through Zardozi marketing team “, gradually, due to high customer satisfaction the Number of orders extended for her facemasks during the last two months.

Kubra is extremely happy for being Zardozi’s beneficiary for a long period. She says “I am happy that I could save my business during COVID 19, and I am happier that my business helped other women to stay employed during this difficult time, I know it wasn’t possible if I never could reach out to Zardozi”. Along with Kubra, all zardozi staffs are happy with their efforts as their joint efforts are creating greater impacts on society.

She has gone through many hard times in her life, she is 50 years old lady who is the mother of 9 children, she passed 3 decades of her life witnessing Afghanistan’s civil wars, the war which has affected all aspects of people’s life such as family, education, economy, and health. Kubra as a strong mother has remained hopeful and active all the time of her life, she supported her husband and her children with a maximum of her skills and qualities. She has fought for her family’s survival while they were immigrated to Pakistan for over 5 years.

She regrets that due to poverty, her older children couldn’t go to school, but now she is hopeful for the future of her younger child as she is financially enough capable to support her younger child to go school and have a better future.

This is amazing to see Afghan women are interested and committed to development. They have brought great changes in their personal lives and the economy of the country. Afghan women have proved that they are creative and hopeful in all hard situations, so they deserve more supports and appreciation.

Best to all Afghan Women.


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Zardozi distributed food as poverty increases amid COVID-19 lockdown

Afghans are suffering more from coronavirus lockdown and joblessness during the holy month of Ramadan. Zardozi clients saw a major setback in their small businesses which were the only source of income and hope for their children.  

Among many of the clients Zardozi serves, Roshan Gul, a mother of 4 daughters and one son leads a poor life in a small mud house far away from the city of Herat.

For Roshan Gul and her kids, quarantine in Ramadan is like a nightmare as most of their days passed by without any food on Iftars, evening meal for breaking fast in Ramadan.

“I am lost about what to pay for with the little saving I have had. My son’s medicine? The bills and rent of the house? Or an onetime food?” says Roshan Gul as she sits by the bed of her son who has been suffering from a mental illness for the past several years.

The coronavirus pandemic in Afghanistan may not be closer to its peak yet but millions of people are already unemployed which is raising the percentage of poverty in the country; hence, making this Ramadan the hardest of all.

People like Roshan Gul, who used to sell eggs to earn some money, are no exception to this. They are paying the highest price for the lockdown.

In the middle of all these crisis, several businessmen and humanitarian relief and development organizations are playing a key role in responding to the COVID-19 crisis by distributing awareness flyers, hygienic materials, and food packages.

Recently, Zardozi also allocated a portion of money for distributing food to 124 low-income families in Kabul, Mazar-e-sharif, Jalalabad, and Heart. In each of this province 30 clients were supported with a package that included flour, sugar, oil, rice, pasta, salt, tomato paste, tea, pea, bean, lentil beans, and soap.

For transparency of the process, Zardozi created a food distribution committee that consisted of Zardozi staff member, Nisfe-Jahan member, and Kadar to buy food and disseminate it to the poor families. The representatives of Directorate of Women Affairs who attended the event in Jalalabad and Herat were very pleased with the transparency of food distribution and appreciated Zardozi’s constant support to underprivileged Afghan women.

The distribution of food in the four provinces was a significant step in the eyes of the families. The tears of happiness and prayers in their voices demonstrated the pain of starvation and fears of continuation of the government-imposed quarantine.

When Roshan Gul’s daughters saw Zardozi distribute the food, they jumped from happiness. One of her little girls excited about having pasta for dinner that night said to the staff member, “When I grow up, I will also help people as you did.”

Zardozi’s Kadar member says that poverty is forcing people to beg on the streets. Zardozi will not be able to reach out to all of its clients, but it will try its best to find solutions to alleviate the situation for some. “I would encourage everyone with a good economic situation to help their poor neighbors because we must be together to get out of this disaster,” Bi Bi Haji, the Kadar says.


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Clients dedicated to producing more protection clothes

Adela, Zainab, Asma, Jamila, Samiha and Jamila are the six skilled and active women of Char Qala-e-Wazirabad district of Kabul who came together from little income families and running small businesses. They joined hands to open a tailoring production workshop in early 2019 – an initiative encouraged by Zardozi.

The women would come together in their not very big workshop and sometimes worked until late to complete customers’ orders. The production workshop, thereafter, became their second home where they could also pour out their hearts and support one another mentally.

“The production workshop started off with small to big orders, it was like winning our own little lottery,” Asma spoke while working on their current order lying in piles in front of her. Adela who is closer to Asma grinned at her comment, whispering “that was the first time Asma had ever made that much in a lifetime.” The little giggles and atmosphere filled with trust added fun and passion to their work.

However, with the sudden and rapid spread of COVID-19, Asma and her business partners in the workshop never expected a drop in their regular high incomes. “The word was all over the place in radios and TVs in no time. Businesses stopped, it was miserable for all of us. What are we going to eat became the main concern,” said Jamila.

“But we had to think about a solution to survive. We asked our business trainers at Zardozi. Their awareness program and initiatives by clients in Herat and Kabul gave us the idea of making protection kits and masks,” Adela added to Jamila.

The group used this opportunity and changed the line of production to PPT kits. Zardozi introduced them to the market, and since they had built a good reputation from last year, a contract was awarded to them. The wholesaler also provided all the raw materials for the protection clothes that the clients were going to make.

Asma says that up until now they have made 550 pairs of the safety clothes which have generated 40,000 AFS. She says, “We are grateful that the business did not shut down like many did in the city. At least there is enough to eat to get us through the holy month of Ramadan.”

Note: The clients wear protection clothes when they enter the workshop and sits 2 meters apart from one another. They use disinfectants everyday to destroy the possibility of any existent virus that would affect their production.


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Zardozi facilitated online counseling in quarantine

Afghan women have always been more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. They have sacrificed their mental health to domestic violence, gender inequality and social and economical problems by suffering silently. To help women alleviate their pain and speak about their problems, Zardozi with the help of organizations like MEDICA Afghanistan facilitates socio psychotherapy sessions for its clients in community business centers or Manbehs in the three provinces – Kabul, Mazar-e-sharif, and Heart.

The outbreak of coronavirus left a more profound effect on people’s mental health because of unemployment, poverty and loneliness. As the lockdown calls for everyone to stay at home, the rise in violence and abuse against women is more likely to be expected. According to the estimations made by UN agency for sexual and reproductive health, “there would be 31 million cases of domestic violence worldwide if lockdowns continue for another six months.”

Since most of Zardozi clients are now connected through online chat rooms, majority complains are reported about the daily struggles they have with joblessness and the associated family problems that come with it. Mahtab, a client of Zardozi says that financial issues have stressed everyone at home which sometimes results into a fight between her and her husband.

After recognizing the problem, Zardozi regional managers in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif discussed this issue with MEDICA Afghanistan. The organization was happy to cooperate with Zardozi as part of their campaign against COVID-19 in Herat, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

MEDICA Afghanistan provided contact numbers of doctors who will assist Zardozi clients with their economic and social problems as well as give health tips for free. Mahtab says that when Zardozi shared the numbers through the IMO group, she would call the doctors when she wanted to talk or take advice. “It is hard to find someone to talk to because of the fear of the virus. The doctors seem like nice people. They help me calm down when I am stressed,” Mahtab says.


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