Unmasking new opportunities in a time of crisis

With the outbreak of COVID-19, Istoray’s business ground to a sudden halt. A lockdown order on the market where Istoray’s business operated caused her, and many others to lose their business and income.

Istoray is a tailor and community leader in Baghlan, Afghanistan. In 2019, thanks to a Canadian-supported program, she was equipped to grow her business and train new tailors through business skills training, who she was able to later hire on to support growing demand at her tailoring shop at Bibi Sabri Garden.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, Istoray’s business ground to a sudden halt. A lockdown order on the market where Istoray’s business operated caused her, and many others to lose their business and income.

But thanks to her new-found knowledge in marketing and resilience, she found a way to grow her business in a time of crisis. After observing the increasing demand for protective masks in Baghlan, she started to sew them from home.

“My business was on the brink of falling down, when I suddenly realized that I can save not only my business but also people of my community,” she said. “I analyzed the market, saw the [demand for masks,] and started sewing. I was making 400 to 500 masks daily,” she added.

With the help of her children, Istoray sells the masks locally. A nearby drugstore also stocks her masks in packages of 12.

Istoray is not only helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by providing masks at an affordable price to her community. She has found a way to thrive. Selling masks has doubled her monthly income at a time when many businesses have struggled to make ends meet.

In the future, Istoray hopes to further extend her business by producing other quality protective clothes, once she finds a supplier who can keep up with her demand for materials.

By empowering women like Istoray, we are helping build communities and economies that are resilient to change and crises.

Learn more about the Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Program by clicking here.

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