Opening access to international markets for Afghan businesswomen

Connecting Afghan Women Entrepreneurs with International Markets: UNDP and AWCCI Exhibit 26 Women-Owned Businesses in Dubai

April 3, 2023

From traditional carpets to modern footwear, Afghan women entrepreneurs display their products at the Dubai exhibition

19 March 2023 - UNDP and the Afghan Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) held a three-day presentation of 26 small and medium businesses owned by Afghan women at an exhibition in Rotana Arjaan in Dubai.

The exhibition included a selection of carpets, handicrafts, wooden artefacts, and shoe products from women-owned businesses from across Afghanistan. The fair was part of UNDP’s programme supporting over 34,000 women businesses.

"The women entrepreneurs of Afghanistan are an inspiration to all of us," said UNDP Resident Representative in Afghanistan, Abdallah Al Dardari. "This exhibition is part of our broader support to women in Afghanistan, including by helping women entrepreneurs gain access to markets abroad. After this fair in Dubai, we’re planning another exhibition in Doha.”

Alison Davidian, UN Women's Special Representative in Afghanistan, added, 

“When I ask Afghan women how we can best support you, the answer is always the same – we need work. We want jobs. We need livelihoods. With our partners in Afghanistan, we are doing all we can to make this happen.”

The Chairwoman of the Afghan Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI), Afsana Rahimi, also spoke at the event via video link. "Our mission is to empower women to succeed in the business world, and we are grateful for the support of our partners in this effort," she said “"We call upon our donor community to support Afghan women in working with the region, learning from their experiences, and exploring their potential for better outcomes. It's also important to focus on product quality that aligns with regional trends."

The United Nations Resident Coordinator for the UAE, Dena Assaf, added, "We are pleased to see Afghan women entrepreneurs having the opportunity to showcase their products in Dubai and connect with international markets. This exhibition is not only a testament to the resilience and creativity of Afghan women, but also a step towards achieving gender equality and economic empowerment.”

Amina, a businesswoman said via video link, "This exhibition showcases the power of women-owned small and medium enterprises and the impact of UNDP's programmes in supporting women entrepreneurs. Let's continue to support and empower women in their journeys to success."

According to UNDP analysis, restricting women from working can result in an economic loss of up to US$1 billion, or up to five per cent of Afghanistan's GDP.

The exhibition was held in Rotana Arjaan in Dubai from 16 to 18 March 2023. The opening event was attended by representatives of the business community as well as Ambassadors, experts and officials working on the international response to the crisis in Afghanistan.