Zahra H., 20, helps support her family and pay for her education with a small business making purses and other items from beads.

I help my family by doing a handcraft called Makroma bafi and it allows me to afford my own necessities.

Every day after breakfast I go to a course to study for Konkor, a college entry exam, because I just finished twelfth grade. I am busy with studies till noon and then I prepare lunch for the family. I started Makroma bafi so I can teach my neighbors and pay for my courses.

Makroma bafi is an art that most of the time is considered an occupation for women. We can make artistic handicrafts for our homes or for a girl’s dowry. Mostly we use beads to make artistic objects like flowerpots and many other things. Not every bride uses  them, but they are beautiful enough for anyone to want to purchase one.

I sell a small purse for 100 Afs or sometimes for more. But a medium purse is worth 600 Afs.

If I go to Bagh-E-Zanana (a park for women) I might sell four or five purses per month, which makes me 3000 Afs. It’s a good business. It is not difficult work once you learn it.

One person can work on one piece at a time till it’s finished. One can start her own business or can work together with some other girls as well.

My childhood dream is still with me. I wanted to be independent and help my family. At the beginning when I started my business I couldn’t afford the tools, so I borrowed some money from a friend and after working and selling my products I was able to pay back the loan.

My goal is to learn new skills of Makroma bafi and to teach others. For Afghan women who want to do business in Afghanistan, clothing products are good. Most of the young people are interested in dresses. This kind of business helps our country to be independent and have fewer imports.

But there is not much financial aid for women. We need more associations to help us get aid and produce more.

Women who want to have a business have to have self-confidence and keep working. If they try, they can reach their goals.

By Zahra H. as told to Fatima F.