EXCLUSIVE: Women entrepreneurs facing absolute losses

KABUL (SW) – During interviews with 23 businesswomen in four provinces of the country, Salam Watandar found that majority of them are faced with absolute losses.

These businesswomen told with Salam Watandar that the caretaker government’s restrictions on women’s work and other restrictions have caused their sales to drop dramatically.

These businesswomen warn that if the current situation continues, they may stop their business activities. Salam Watandar interviewed 23 businesswomen in Kabul, Ghor, Herat and Samangan.

In the interviews with Salam Watandar, these businesswomen also expressed their concern because of the restrictions on their participation in domestic exhibitions and added that they cannot participate in foreign exhibitions due to the restrictions on women’s travel.

During the interviews, the interviewed businesswomen revealed that after the ban on women entering the amusement parks, the market for their goods has also decreased. There are special shops for women in these recreational areas and parks.

At the same time, the prevention of women’s work in the country is considered to be one of the reasons due to which the business of these businesswomen has faced financial stagnation.

These businesswomen say that although the only field of activity for women in the country is industry and commerce, but according to them, with the change of the system, women in this sector are becoming more and more vulnerable.

Saleha Sakhizada, director of Atlas Company in Kabul, said that after the fall of the previous government, the business has deteriorated and according to her, the price of the clothes they produce in their company has become very low.

She said: “The job market is not good. During these two years of changes, our labor market has deteriorated and we are facing stagnation and we have suffered. Our business has gone bankrupt. Limitations have been created and challenges are ahead of us.”

At the same time, Wahida Soltani, who owns a shop of “Afghani Gand and Hazargi clothes” in Kabul Bagh Babar area, says that she had a good expertise about these clothes, but according to her, now her sales have decreased and there are no buyers.

She said: “All the women have stopped and we don’t have any more sales. Right now we are paying the rent of the shop from our own pocket and it is a loss. Our sales are zero.”

During the interviews with 23 businesswomen conducted by Salam Watandar in the four provinces of the country, it was revealed that the ban on women going to entertainment places has directly affected their business.

Bibi Shirin, the director of Shahran Handicrafts and Carpet Weaving Company in Bagh Babar, Kabul, told Salam Watandar that she has a shop in Bagh Zanana, but according to her, there is no sale. “I have my own shop here, and women are not allowed to go to the entertainment areas, and some men who come do not buy anything. Even now, we have kept the shop active, but we have no sales.”

Nasima Moulazada, another trader in the field of handicrafts, also told Salam Watandar: “Exhibitions are not held in entertainment places for women. First, they were held here in Bagh Zanana and women used to come every week, they used to come all the time, they used to have fun and our work would flourish.”

In addition to this, in interviews, a number of business women considered the ban on women’s travel as one of the reasons due to which the process of transporting their goods from the provinces and abroad has been hindered.

Diana Sadat, a trader of decorative accessories and rugs, told Salam Watandar about this: “We can’t go there and they impose new restrictions every day, and there are other restrictions like: women can’t go anywhere alone.”

Garment merchant Parisa Iqbal also said: “It would be very easy and comfortable to go to Islamabad during the Republic, but now the visa is difficult. I can’t go until I get a Muharram (male companion). That’s why I left my business and now I’m a tailor.”

At the same time, out or 23 business women were interviewed by Salam Watandar, six of them, say that they have some income and sales, but according to them, the level of sales and income is lower than past.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment also confirm the low level of sales and business of businesswomen. As per estimates, the business of businesswomen has decreased by 50 percent.

Ayesha Aziz, a member of the delegation of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the deputy head of labor and policy, says that although the caretaker government has allowed businesswomen to work and their number has increased compared to the Republic, but according to her, the labor market has been reduced.

She said: “It cannot be said that it is 100% good, there are problems, but only men buy the products, women don’t. The market is shrinking. Buying and selling is less. There is no exact number. The number is high and may reach hundreds of people. Some hundreds of companies that are really facing stagnation.”

At the same time, Pashtuna Amiri, a board member of the foundation, says that business women are facing a bad economic and work situation. She added that there is no suitable market for business women in the country.

She said: “In the last two years, the situation of business women is very bad, because we don’t have a market, and secondly, women don’t have a special place where they can present their goods and people can buy them. The things we bought, we didn’t have a place for, got spoiled and got lost. We could not even pay the rent of the shop.”

Khanjan Alkozi, a member of the board of directors of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investments, says that due to the restrictions imposed by the caretaker government, the number of business women has decreased by 50 percent compared to the Republic.

He said: “With the creation of new conditions and restrictions, and some women, as you know, have left the country and the business has also decreased, we think that it has decreased by 50 percent.”

Economic affairs analysts call this situation due to the restrictions imposed on women by the current government and want the government to organize and support exhibitions for women at home and abroad.

Zahir Behzad, an economic affairs analyst, said: “The situation of business women is not as good as it was expected with the fall of the previous government and the coming of A.A. .”

Economic affairs expert Amna Hashemi also told Salam Watandar about this: “Unfortunately, there are many women who have turned to private enterprises, but they do not have enough income. There is production, but no sales. When a woman can’t go to the market without a male, she can’t do her shopping, when she can’t go from one province to another, how can she do business?

Akhundzada Abdulsalam Jawad, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, denies the lack of business women’s labor market and sales and says that the number of business women has increased in the last two years, and according to him, the government is making efforts to market and trade their products.

He said: “Most of the exhibitions held in Afghanistan are dedicated to women. We are trying to establish special business centers for women in Kabul, as well as online sales centers, so that they can sell their goods in the country and abroad.”