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Entrepreneurship and Job Creation

Empowering women to beat the odds

Hand in Hand helps women beat the odds and succeed as entrepreneurs. The money the women earn and the confidence they gain changes everything where whole families and communities rise with them.
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Case Study

Meet Frozan, who has created a buzz around Marmul  

Frozan, 18, lives in north Afghanistan, a corner of the world where teenage women get married, not work. Still, that never stopped her from dreaming. “We are a big family and my father, a farmer, was the only one earning – it was never enough. I have always wanted to do something to help, to be an independent person, but I didn’t know how.”
Didn’t, that is, until she met Hand in Hand. Frozan joined a Self-Help Group and quickly became a star pupil. Training led to a business plan, which led to a loan from fellow group members. Finally, she was ready: the newest, youngest and only female beekeeper in her village. Her business has not only helped put her through school, but it has done the same for her younger sisters and even helped her parents provide for the family.

A need for empowerment

Ranked 152 out of 155 on the UN Gender Equality Index, Afghanistan is one of the most challenging countries for women on Earth. It’s also one of the least developed.
Before the coronavirus crisis approximately 39 percent of Afghans lived on less than US $1.90 a day, the World Bank threshold for extreme poverty. Today, that number has increased significantly. At the same time, only 7 percent of rural women in Afghanistan are literate, with Human Rights Watch recording that 85 percent of the 3.5 million Afghan children who do not attend school are girls.

Keeping busy

As a student with plans to enrol in higher education, Frozan was already beating the odds. But a desire to empower herself economically told her not to stop there. After joining the Shogufa Self-Help Group run by Hand in Hand, Frozan attended regular meetings and supplemented her schoolwork with training on microfinance, bookkeeping and business development.

“I was keen to have a business from the first group meeting until I completed the business development training, when I understood how to run a business and what I should consider. Therefore, with the help of my trainer, I developed a business plan.”

Frozan carried out a study of her native Marmul district in Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan, and learnt that there was a high demand for honey. After further research, she discovered that beekeeping doesn’t require much labour – a perfect arrangement for a full-time student. Frozan applied for and obtained a microloan of 10,000 SFG (US $140) so that she could purchase two boxes of bees. 

Sweet success

Alongside lessons in business development, Frozan learned the skills she needed to look after her bees, as well as how to extract honey and improve its quality and volume.

Within a year, she had harvested 16 kg (35 lbs) of honey, enough to not only repay her loan but earn a small profit. Frozan invested that back into her business by buying more bees and, within two years, posted earnings of 120,000 AFG (US $1,728) from the 120 kg (265 lbs) of honey produced by a collection of what had grown to 20 beehives.

“After first year of my business, I was amazed to see the results,” Frozan said. “I repaid the loan and expanded my business. Now I am paying school expenses of my two younger sisters, helping my dad in home expenses and I have my own savings for emergencies.”
Frozan’s classmates have told her they have been inspired by her business and that they would like to set up their own. For her part, Frozan is planning to move to the nearby city of Mazar-i-Sharif to continue her education, either to study economics or train as a teacher, allowing her father, Ismail, and sisters to continue to look after the business while she is away.
“Women having a business like me can help their families to overcome financial challenges, save for emergencies and take active part in developing economy of their communities,” she said. “Now I have learnt how to manage my activities and time, and work confidently in order to improve our lives. I am also saving for expanding my business, which will in turn generate more income for me in the future.”