UNDP exhibition empowers women-led businesses in Kabul

November 17, 2023

Each of the 29 women entrepreneurs had their own dedicated booth to display and demonstrate their products.

Photo: UNDP Afghanistan

Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan face many challenges that limit their potential and participation in the private sector. Some of these challenges include lack of access to finance, skills, markets, and enabling environment. To support and promote women entrepreneurs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized an exhibition on 15-16 of November in UN compound in Kabul to showcase their unique products, connect with potential customers, investors, and partners and foster networking opportunities. The exhibition aimed to enhance the visibility and success of women-led businesses while contributing to the empowerment and growth of Afghan women.  

The exhibition featured 29 different businesses and hundreds of products, ranging from fashion and beauty to decorative and agricultural products. The entrepreneurs expressed their enthusiasm for this opportunity, highlighting its positive impact on their businesses. The exhibition attracted UN staff and other interested parties, including esteemed donors from Japan and Denmark.

Momtaz Yosufzai, who was among the exhibitors, highlighted the significance of such exhibitions, saying, “Our business growth depends on these exhibitions, especially when the market access is limited by recent restrictions. Showcasing our products to national and international visitors at UNOCA opens the door to new customers.”

Zia Gul from Gul Brand Mall sold products worth $600 and received $400 worth of new orders in just four hours. She recognized the importance of networking and displaying products in one place, stating, “It is amazing how much we can benefit from networking and showcasing our products in one place.”

The event resulted in a cumulative sale of products worth more than $5,000 by the participating businesses. Even those who garnered fewer sales expressed that they gained valuable experience and exposure. The success of the event can be attributed to two key factors.

Firstly, product showcasing played a crucial role. Each of the 29 women entrepreneurs had their own dedicated booth to display and demonstrate their products. Visitors were greeted with a wide variety of high-quality offerings, ranging from fashion and beauty to decorative and agricultural products.

Secondly, the exhibition provided exceptional networking opportunities. Attendees had the chance to directly interact with the women entrepreneurs, establish connections, and learn more about their businesses. Aspiring entrepreneurs could gather insights and advice from experienced professionals, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment.

Through UNDP's ABADEI programme, most of the women entrepreneurs received technical support and grants in 2022 and 2023. This programme helped them to grow their businesses by providing them with training, mentoring, and access to markets. The collaboration between UNDP and the women entrepreneurs was vital for their success.

Ms. Surayo Buzurukova, Senior Deputy Resident Representative said: “Women entrepreneurs have the power to drive economic growth and empower others, and by supporting and promoting their businesses, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society,”

“This exhibition showcases the incredible potential and resilience of women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, and we are dedicated to continuing our efforts to support their success. We are grateful to our donors for their continued support." added Surayo.

Exhibitions like this serve as a reminder of the immense potential and talent that women bring to the business world. It is important for stakeholders to continue supporting and promoting women-led businesses, which will help create a fairer and prosperous society.