Female entrepreneurs face market challenges at Kabul expo

Female entrepreneurs from across Afghanistan have gathered at the National and International Exhibition in Kabul to showcase their handicrafts and products, highlighting not only their skills but also their significant market challenges and the lack of financial support.

The Taliban’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce reported that at least 200 women entrepreneurs are participating in the event. This development unfolds against a backdrop of severe restrictions imposed by the Taliban, including limitations on women’s access to education and employment.

Despite these adversities, the exhibition has seen a notable presence of women. Among the participants is Arizo, a graduate of the Herat University of Arts, who now sells pottery, decorative glassware, and ceramic bowls. “I am here to promote and introduce the ancient art of Herat,” Arizo said, emphasizing that she crafted many of the showcased items herself.

Entrepreneurs from Farah, Badakhshan, and Samangan provinces expressed that a lack of market availability is their primary obstacle as they seek opportunities to sell their products. Marjana, an embroidery artist from Samangan with 30 years of experience, shared her vibrant fabrics and handmade items at the expo. “I have consistently participated in many exhibitions over the years,” she stated.

Additionally, some entrepreneurs noted that market conditions have declined compared to previous years, yet they face high fees for participation. “I paid 1,000 Afghanis for the stall, and I bring high-quality products like honey, cookies, and dried fruits from Badakhshan,” said Marina Najmi, another participant.

The exhibition, which opened on Monday, features 800 stalls, with 200 specifically allocated for women, according to the Taliban Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Iranian traders are also reported to have attended the event.