Zardozi is bolstering women’s inclusion in Afghanistan’s economy. It is working to ensure that progress made by Afghan women over the past several years advances by helping women work in different formal and informal business sectors.
In Mazar-e-Sharif, a group of women from Zardozi are making an important contribution to the dry fruits economy of the country but their path is not free from challenges and hurdles to be successful. Dry fruits are an important and challenging business for Afghan women. Many of these women are using traditional methods of drying fruits which is in open-air and sun. This has resulted into poor quality and less production which has portrayed a bad image of Afghan women’s dried fruits business both domestically and internationally.
Monisa who is part of the dry fruit start up group says that her family dried the fruits in open air which would become unhygienic due to grit, dirt and insects such as flies. “Zardozi introduced us to new technology and machineries which uses healthier and time consuming techniques to have large income in relatively low-cost,” added Monisa.
After observing Monisa and her group members’ success with the new dry fruits machinery, many other women were also encouraged to work in this sector and demanded Zardozi’s cooperation in acquiring the new technology. Currently Zardozi works with three dry fruit start up groups in Mazar-e-Sharif to guide them on the usage of the machinery. These groups dry meat and fruits and medicine plants from their gardens and cultivations. The dried product has found a good market in the bazaar and national exhibitions as several wholesale buyers have approached the groups with small and big contracts.
Shakila before buying the machineries spoke about her uncertainties regarding starting this business because her old dry fruit business had not attracted good market. “I was still worried about the new machineries and how they will work out, because I saw big loss in the old business using traditional techniques, but this currently technologically oriented business surprised me with the outcome,” exclaimed Shakila.
While talking about the groups’ successes, Kamila told us about her group’s future ambitions:
“Women can do a lot if they are given the right tools. These are the initial small deals that will make our way to international market. We are hoping to export these fruits to neighbor countries as well which will take a very hard work, passion and hiring of more women to achieve the goal.”