Women entrepreneurs in Balkh face lack of market for their products

A group of women entrepreneurs in Balkh province said that they are faced a lack of market within and outside the country for their products over the last nine months following the major political changes in Afghanistan.

The female entrepreneurs said that more than half of women have left their businesses due to the lack of the Taliban government’s attention to their products and the handicrafts they produce.

Besides lack of markets inside the country, lack of exhibitions within and outside Afghanistan, the increased prices of raw materials and decrease in people’s economic condition have affected the businesses of women entrepreneurs in Balkh and other parts of the country.

Parwin, a businesswoman in Balkh, said she has provided jobs to dozens of women through her handicraft productions but added that she is concerned about the lack of market.

“Our products need to be sent to neighboring countries because people are not in a good economic condition to buy our products here in Afghanistan,” she said.

“The production is high but the demand is none. Exports have been stopped. People cannot buy the products. The government must help us in finding markets for our products by holding exhibitions,” said Zohra Husaini, a woman entrepreneur in Balkh.

Another female entrepreneur, Nilofar, said the prices of raw materials for their products have significantly increased in the last six months, and that they cannot afford to buy them.

“Previously, people were able to buy products made by Afghan women, but it is not like this now because people’s economic condition is not good,” she added.

Meanwhile, Taliban officials in Balkh said they are working on plans to provide “more opportunities” for the selling of women entrepreneurs’ products.

We will make efforts to support businesspeople and find markets for them so that they can become self-reliant,” said Zabihullah Noorani, head of the information and culture department of Balkh.

The chamber of industry and mines, a business community in Balkh, said they have started some efforts to establish a market for women’s handicrafts and women’s products in Balkh.

“We will make efforts to hold exhibitions for women’s products and handicrafts and we are ready to send their products abroad,” said Imamuddin Sanaeezada, the head of the chamber of industry and mines in Balkh.

Balkh residents meanwhile said that to support homemade products, people should buy them in local markets instead of purchasing foreign products.

“We should use domestic products to become self-reliant economically,” said Ahmad Samim, a Balkh resident.

This comes as the UN development program, UNDP, announced in March to provide at least $50 million for Afghan economic programs.

A UNDP official, Achim Steiner, on a trip to Balkh in March, said that the UN will provide $ 1.5 million to help diversify the work of businesswomen in the north of Afghanistan.