Fadilah*, like many girls from under-educated families across Afghanistan, dropped out of school in the 7th grade., but she still tried to improve her economic situation but starting a home-based tailoring business in Mazar-i-Sharif.  Despite her tailoring skills, Fadilah was not making enough money to live and buy the machinery needed to meet her customers’ needs.

As more and more women enter the world of business and start up micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, they often struggle with challenges such as access to finance. Access to finance, provision of collateral, and conservative societal norms are some of the obstacles that prevent women from participating in the economy.

“During the Eid festival, I received a lot of orders, but because I did not have enough money to buy machinery or materials, I wasn’t able to deliver on all of them,” Fadilah said.

USAID’s Promote: Women in the Economy (WIE) program has developed a loan referral mechanism to assist female entrepreneurs. The loan assistance is available to women-owned businesses or businesses in which women comprise at least 10 percent of the workforce.

“When WIE visited our business and explained how they help businesses such as ours to acquire loan for business growth, I immediately registered. With the help of WIE, I was able to secure a loan of 150,000 AFN, which I used to buy new tailoring machines and equipment,” Fadilah said.

The loan enabled Fadilah to buy a sewing machine and expand her clientele. She also hired two more female staff members and increased her average monthly income by about 10 percent. Now, Fadilah can rely on her own company as her primary source of income.

*Name changed for security reasons