“Try your best”: Fatima’s story

Country Office Spotlight: Afghanistan

“Try your best and show the world that you can be a successful woman.” That’s the advice our Economic Empowerment Officer in Kabul gives to women in WfWI’s program who are learning how to earn money. She shared the story of Fatima, and how she walked her through the process of starting her own business.

afghanistan-embroidery“She felt like she was nothing in this world,” she said, remembering the first time they met. They talked about some of Fatima’s struggles: how her husband was unable to work outside of the home, and how difficult it was for her to save even part of her training stipend. She told Fatima she could earn money for her family, and encouraged her to start small. “If you save 10 Afghanis [$0.17] from this $10 dollars, then I think you can.” She followed up with her the following week – and Fatima had saved 100 Afghanis ($1.70).

With her savings started, she advised Fatima, “From your 100 Afghanis, you can buy fabric and you can embroider on it, and then you can sell it.” Fatima was doubtful it would work, but she explained how the little she had saved was enough to get her started – 10 Afghanis for her thread and 25 to 30 Afghanis for fabric. “And then, start,” she encouraged.

The next time she saw her, Fatima had finished her embroidering. Ready to help her take the next step and sell her product, she said, “Give it to me, and I’m going to sell it.” Fatima agreed, but was still uncertain whether it could even be sold. When she returned with 100 Afghanis, Fatima was inspired, and saw how the 50 Afghanis she had invested in her work could earn her so much more.

Right now, Fatima is building up her small business, and each month, she is earning 3,000 Afghanis selling her embroidery in the local market. “I can solve my children’s problems and pay for medicine. For my family, what they need at home, I can solve,” says Fatima, about the difference the income has made in her life. “And I can also solve my own problems.”

Learn more about how you can become involved in Women for Women International’s work in Afghanistan.