Fariba's sewing business weaves a brighter future for migrants and returnees

June 20, 2024

Fariba Maryam, founder of the Sewing and Handicrafts Factory, empowers migrant women through traditional Afghan craftsmanship. Her vision and support from UNDP have increased sales by 25%, providing hope and sustainable income to vulnerable women.

Photo: UNDP Afghanistan

Afghanistan faces one of the largest and longest displacement crises in recent history. Since 2021, over 1.6 million Afghans have arrived in neighboring host countries, many crossing borders unofficially. 

UNDP supports women entrepreneurship and business expansion, creating jobs for internally displaced people, returnees, and host communities across Afghanistan. 

Fariba Maryam Sewing and Handicrafts Factory, established in 2018, delivers high-quality sewing and handicrafts products. The factory employs women who craft traditional Afghan dresses with leather and beadwork, ceremonial attire, children's clothing, embroidered Kurtis, and hand-knitted beaded bags and jewelry. The workforce includes migrant women, including returnees from Pakistan and Iran, working alongside skilled artisans. 

By focusing on fine craftsmanship and premium materials, the factory produces unique products and creates job opportunities for migrant and vulnerable Afghan women, helping them through challenging times. Fariba Maryam offers excellent products at reasonable prices, aiming to attract a broad customer base. 

Fariba's journey began with a vision: to create sustainable income for herself and other vulnerable women. As a returnee from Iran, she understood the challenges faced by those who had left everything behind—their homes, memories, and livelihoods. But Fariba saw beyond the hardships; she saw potential waiting to bloom. 

“My aim is more than simply manufacturing beautiful things; it is about providing opportunity and hope to women who have been through so much. Every stitch, bead, and thread tells a story of perseverance and a better future. This is more than just a company; it is a purpose to inspire those who have overcome hardship and to show that will drive and talent, anything is achievable,” said Fariba. 

Fariba employs nine women, all returnees from Pakistan and Iran, each with their own story of bravery and strength. Anahita and Zarmina, burdened by displacement, found comfort and meaning in Fariba’s business. Fariba doesn't just offer employment; she imparts hope, teaching her team to create exquisite products and guiding them toward mastery. The delicate embroidery and intricate beadwork carry Fariba’s heart and the promise of a better tomorrow. 

UNDP recognized Fariba's commitment. With their support, her business saw a 25% increase in sales. But for Fariba, it's not just about numbers; it's about impact. She envisions expanding beyond borders, reaching international markets. 

Fariba Noori's legacy extends beyond her workshop. “I want the world to see that migrants are not just victims, but trailblazers with incredible talent and a willingness to work hard. By providing stable employment and skill-building opportunities, I hope to show that migrants can achieve great things and make invaluable contributions to their communities. This is my way of honoring their resilience and creating a future where no one has to lose their home to find their purpose,” concluded Fariba. For every product sold, Fariba allocates a percentage back to her team. Anahita and Zarmina, once lost in uncertainty, now stand tall, self-sufficient and proud. "Fariba taught us to stitch not just fabric but our futures," says Anahita. Zarmina adds, "Our hands weave more than threads; they weave possibility." 

UNDP's Additional Efforts 

Following earthquakes in Herat, UNDP constructed over 230 transitional shelters, benefiting almost 2,000 IDPs. In partnership with the World Bank, EU, and Asian Development Bank, UNDP spearheaded the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) to support recovery efforts. 

UNDP supported 73 SMEs (725 men and 237 women) and 470 women-led informal businesses in the Priority Areas of Return and Reintegration (PARR) region of Herat province through grants. This support expanded businesses, creating over 1,432 job opportunities for returnees and host communities. 

UNDP also launched a Cash-for-Work scheme in Herat’s PARR area, enhancing infrastructure by building flood protection walls, bridges, and drainage systems. This initiative protected 4,750 households and 220 hectares of agricultural land from flood risks, creating over 16,190 working days.