Listening to Women Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

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Their Struggle and Resilience

This comprehensive report unveils the remarkable resilience of women-owned and -led businesses in Afghanistan, despite formidable challenges. The study by UNDP, through its Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector in Development in collaboration with REACH - a humanitarian initiative providing granular data, timely information and in-depth analysis from contexts of crisis, disaster and displacement- and the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), is based on extensive research with women entrepreneurs including 3,100 quantitative interviews, focus group discussions with over 100 participants, and dozens of in-depth individual interviews. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to date on the economic situation of women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. 

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    • Donor support and higher market demand are increasing business opportunities. Some 66% of women reported growth in their businesses over the past year. Donor assistance is the leading factor (60%), followed by increased demand (44%), higher quality of products (43%), and lower prices (28%). 
    • When asked about the constraints of operating a business as a woman, 32% of women-led MSMEs believed gender discrimination presented challenges in market access for their businesses, with 28% citing difficulties in procuring supplies and 19% citing challenges in securing both formal and informal loans.
    • Sources for women-led businesses loans included family (61%), friends (45%), loans from other businesses (21%), formal banks (5%) or remittances from abroad (5%), microfinance institutions (2%), community savings groups (2%), and hawalas (0.31%). 
    • Business is a path for economic survival and autonomy, as 60% of the women surveyed live in women-headed households. 


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