Samira, from Samangan province in the north of Afghanistan, is 21 years old, and a graduate of a local finance and administration institute.  Shortly after she completed her studies, her large family moved to the urban center of Mazar-I-Sharif which is a modern and competitive city. Now living in an unfamiliar city and with no prior work experience, Samira was unable to find work. With a disabled father and three younger brothers, Samira needed to find an income source to help pay for her brothers’ education as well as contribute to her family’s living expenses.

Through an acquaintance, Samira learned about USAID Promote: Women in the Economy (WIE) Microfinance Training (MFI) Program, which places qualified young women within MFI institutes for six months where they receive training in practical financial skills such as cashiering, customer service, and loan facilitation and disbursement procedures. With a sound education in the finance, this opportunity was ideal for Samira who applied and was quickly accepted into this training program. Samira was placed as a Management Information System (MIS) trainee within the non-profit MFI Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) Afghanistan, Mazar-i- Sharif branch which currently serves over 10,000 women in Afghanistan.

After only three months into her apprenticeship at FINCA, Samira proved herself worthy enough to be offered a full-time position; she is now working as a Customer Relations Officer, where she interacts daily with customers and helps in financial services advising. She is the first MFI trainee recipient to be offered a full-time position while still within her training period.

“I did not have any personal network when I came to Mazar-i-Sharif, so I had to build my own self-reliance. I am now able to assist my family financially and contribute to our family’s well- being.  I encourage other girls lacking work experience to enroll in WIE’s trainee programs, and use this opportunity as a way to develop skills which can lead to a career path and financial freedom,” said Samira.

WIE offers private sector and female workforce development in 30 provinces across the country in partnership with MoLSAMD and has offices in five regional economic zones in Afghanistan including Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar, and Kabul. The program supports educated women between the ages of 18-30 in finding new or better jobs through career counseling, workplace skills development, and technical skills training. The MFI Training Program was developed to help Afghan women to increase their participation in the financial sector and increase access to finance for Afghan women-owned businesses. For more information, please visit www.promote-wie.com