FEATURE STORY

Woman Entrepreneur Opens First Women Run Apparel Factory in Bamyan

March 8, 2016


© Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

Masoma's factory receives orders from Kabul and Balkh provinces, and recent contracts in her home province are adding further to its success.

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

Story Highlights
  • A female entrepreneur has become the first woman in Bamyan Province to establish a factory.
  • She has developed her business with the support of the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program, and through a loan from a microfinance institution supported by the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan.
  • Both programs, aimed at stimulating small businesses through different means, are supported by the World Bank’s International Development Association and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.

BAMYAN CITY, Bamyan Province – Masoma Alizada, 26, is showing the clothes made in her factory, Jawan Apparel Manufactory – in Dari (کارگاه تولیداتی پوشاک جوان), to customers in her shop. She describes the quality of each piece of clothing and tells them the price so they could make choices within their budgets.

In addition to the factory, Masoma runs the recently built shop, which carries the clothing she manufactures, including long jackets and embroidered blouses, for both women and men. She usually receives about 25 customers a day.

Her shop, where she also sells handicraft, is located in the Women’s Market in Bamyan city, the first women’s market in the city established by the governor of Bamyan in 2014. There are 25 shops in the market, some still under construction, run only by women.

Six years ago, Masoma and her family returned to Afghanistan from Iran, where they were refugees, and came directly to Bamyan city. Within a few months, she had set up the first factory run by a woman in Bamyan Province.

“In order to create employment opportunities for women, I started women’s tailoring first. Now I am very happy about my work, which has expanded remarkably,” says Masoma, who started with just two sewing machines at home. In the beginning, she accepted orders for womenswear and her work was limited to her neighborhood. Today, her apparel factory employs eight women and one man as full time employees, and 30 women working part time as embroiderers from their homes.

Masoma was able to develop her business largely as a result of support from the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP). Started in 2010, AREDP is a program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), which receives funding support from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

AREDP aims to enhance economic mobilization and activities by organizing the rural poor into Savings Groups, Village Savings & Loan Associations, and Enterprise Groups. The project provides technical support to these groups so as to build a financial discipline through savings and internal lending practices, and technical support to enterprises.

The program works towards strengthening market linkages and value chains for rural enterprises across the country by providing technical support to Enterprise Groups (63 percent female), and small and medium enterprises (14 percent female), selected for their potential as key drivers of rural employment and income generation.

In Bamyan Province, AREDP works in Bamyan city, and Yakawlang, Saighan, and Panjab districts. It covers 299 small and medium enterprises, and 1,033 Savings Groups, creating employment opportunities for over 12,500 people


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Masoma was able to develop her business largely as a result of support from the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP). The program works towards strengthening market linkages and value chains for rural enterprises across the country by providing technical support to Enterprise Groups (63 percent female), and small and medium enterprises (14 percent female).

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

" In order to create employment opportunities for women, I started women’s tailoring first. Now I am very happy about my work, which has expanded remarkably.  "

Masoma Alizada

Entrepreneur, Bamyan city

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There are 25 shops in the market, some still under construction, run only by women.

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Support boosts rapid expansion

With AREDP’s assistance, Masoma was able to participate in several handicraft fairs across the country, making her business known beyond Bamyan Province. In recognition of the high quality of her work and also as Bamyan’s first factory run by a woman, her products were awarded the first position in the Balkh Handicrafts Fair last year.

AREDP has provided further support to her business in the form of new sewing machines, a new building facility in Bamyan city, vocational training, as well as financial training, and business plan development, which has helped her business grow and become recognized as a leading factory in the province.

Another boost to her business was an invitation to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) festival in Bamyan in 2015. In order to expand her clothing stock to participate in the festival, Masoma borrowed 50,000 afghanis ($800) from OXUS, a microfinance institution. Her investment paid off when her factory’s booth in the women’s manufactured and handicraft products’ fair at the festival made good sales.

Masoma learnt about the microfinance program through AREDP. She is among the 300 women who are customers of OXUS microfinance institution in Bamyan Province. The OXUS microfinance institution is supported by the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA) and provides loans to individuals to start small businesses. The total amount of loans provided by OXUS to about 800 clients in Bamyan Province is 60 million Afghani ($1 million).

IDA and ARTF also provide financial support to MISFA, which aims to contribute to Afghanistan’s economic growth by developing a viable, inclusive financial sector for the poor, and the underserved small and medium enterprises. In 2013, IDA provided $50 million to the Access to Finance Project, which gives further support to MISFA to take on a broader role as a catalyst for innovations to increase access to and usage of financial services at the lower end of the market. MISFA acts as a market facilitator, rather than a provider of direct technical assistance.

Masoma has greatly benefited from all the support she has received. “I started working as a tailor from home. At the time, I would sew clothes upon request,” she says. “But now, thanks to the support I have received, I own my clothes factory.”

Her factory now receives orders from Kabul and Balkh provinces, and recent contracts in her home province are adding further to its success. “Now we have signed contracts in Bamyan city with three private high schools, two institutes, the provincial police headquarters, and provincial hospital to manufacture their uniforms,” says Mohammad Ibrahim, 22, a tailor at the factory.

Masoma, who is chairwoman of the Bamyan Businesswomen Association, can be proud of her achievements—she has started a factory, earns a good income, supports her family, and has helped others earn their own incomes.


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