Bano the first Female Shopkeeper in the Village.

Ms. Bano is a member of “Sahar” Saving Group (SG) in Balkh district of Balkh province. In 2013, she obtained the membership of the Saving Group (SG) and won the confidence of other members by saving an amount of 30 AFN weekly. Bano narrates her story this way: In 2013, Ms. Fatima Sarfaraz an employee of Women Economic Empowerment Rural Development Program (WEERDP) came to our village and briefed all women in the women council head’s house.

Hence, I was educated about the program and I was interested to join the Saving Group to save money for my children’s future. I was busy in household chores with no other occupation, prior to joining the program. I was suffering very much economically and socially. My husband’s low income from the shop made me worried about our life’s fate, I thought to myself, what will happen to us? I was also apprehensive about, how to send my children to school? I asked myself, whether my husband could afford to purchase books, pen and fulfill their other needs?

So, how to find an income source to support my family and assist my husband to ensure prosperous life. Consequently, I joined the Saving Group due to Ms. Fatima’s persuasion, and until 9 months ago, I was able to get Islamic loan from the Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) after Association’s and Saving Group’s members suggestion.

I established a shop in a corner of my house and my husband helped me to purchase basic and essential goods for a newly opened shop. Eventually, I was warmly welcomed by villagers. My sales were high enough to repay my debts on time, due to the encouragement and gratification of the residents. Therefore, I took another loan to increase the capital of the shop, currently, I have everything that is need of a housewife and women and children are not required to go faraway to city markets.

It is worthwhile to mention that after clearing my debt account, I got a loan of 24000 AFN from “Safa” Saving and Loan Association to buy a refrigerator for the shop, in order to sell cold water, drinks and doogh in hot summers. I am tremendously grateful to the programs employees for their advice and guidance that qualified me to serve my family and friends. As a women, I had never thought that I would work as the first female shopkeeper and earn Halal income in the Balkh district. We were underprivileged family, my husband was the only breadwinner of the house, however we have 1000 to 2000 AFN daily sale now which is a good income besides that I have made the life of village easy too.

Since I joined the program, I and other women and girls who are part of the program are satisfied and pleased. Previously, we had only performed household chores and we were unable to do anything else. Nonetheless, the program’s great contribution to rural women was to educate them and give them the idea that they could also work and earn income to have a good life. In addition, it taught us that instead of idleness, living in poverty we should get an occupation and work along our male family members regardless of the resources. Moreover, we should demonstrate that women can also earn Halal income for her family and themselves. Now, I along other women help our husbands’ side by side in the work and we have a good life.

Correspondingly, I can say that I have great plans and goals for the future, from recruiting employees to expanding my business. I encourage other women and girls in the village to work, so that they will come out of the darkness too, and see a life from another window.