Meet the Women

Fatema

Kabul, Afghanistan

Profession
Carpentry
Country
Afghanistan
partner school
Thunderbird School of Global Management and the American University of Afghanistan
I believe that economic prosperity contributes to gender equality as more and more benefit directly from allowing women to work outside the walls of the family compound.

Business Overview

My carpentry business employs 73 women and 17 men who meet the demands of the growing market for high quality products such as hand-craft sofas, chairs, tables, desks, cabinets, windows and doors.

Challenges

I was born and raised in Dai Kundi, one of Afghanistan's most mountainous and inaccessible provinces. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, my family and I fled to Iran where I learned the art of carpentry. While acquiring these new skills, I imagined that I could return to my native country and although I would be challenging ancient customs, I wanted to start my own carpentry business and employ women. It was a radical and risky venture, but success would prove to my family, my community and me that women could equally contribute to the economic stability of Dai Kundi and Afghanistan as a whole. Eventually, I was able to prove that, contrary to tradition, my carpentry business helps feed the poor and employs Afghan widows.

I joined the 10,000 Women program so that I could grow my business more, and help more people become independent.

Results

Though personal hardship, security and political uncertainty are constant threats, my employees and I are failure-resistant. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program in Kabul equipped me with management and business development skills, which in turn fueled my company's apprenticeship program along with a new venture — a plasterboard manufacturing company, the first in Afghanistan.

As a result of hiring so many women (81% of my staff), we have been able to decrease gender discrimination and violence against women in households benefitting from their work.

After 10,000 Women, I increased my revenues by 30%. I have also given close to 6,000 men and women literacy and skills training through my NGO.

Future Goals

I hope to create more training and educational opportunities for women, especially widows, which will help the development and stability of Afghanistan.

Additionally, I would like to increase Afghanistan's productivity and sale of Afghan goods in the local markets and decrease the sale of foreign products.

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