Technology to Empower Women in Afghanistan.

November 3, 2016

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women taught about mobile banking, business plan development, access to finance, and professional development

Over the course of 2016, the Afghanistan Microfinance Association led four business development training sessions across the country, and the Islamic Investment and Finance Cooperatives Group conducted a two-day workshop in Kandahar city. Supported by FAIDA, these and other training events helped 261 women learn about mobile banking, business plan development, access to finance, Islamic finance, and possible careers as mobile money agents.

Working as mobile money agents has proven to be a fantastic employment opportunity for Afghan women, many of whom were previously unable to work because of security concerns, views on women’s role in society, and limited chances to gain job skills. Working as mobile money agents offers new opportunities for women to run their own businesses from wherever they are comfortable. Further, mobile money technology protects female business owners from financial corruption through improved electronic transparency, which helps eliminate things like skimming of salaries.

“I never thought one day I would run my own business. I’m not just earning enough to pay for my own expenses, but I am able to pay money to my sisters and brother.”

Hafsa, 23 year old woman who became a mobile money agent

Sediqa Ahmadzai became a mobile money agent after attending a business development training by FAIDA, Etisalat, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She had been struggling to find a job that fit her schedule and her family’s expectations. However, the skills she gained through these courses gave her the necessary information and confidence to start her own mobile money business. In October 2016, she was registering mobile money customers and selling mobile top-up cards to the Afghanistan Cricket Board and Kabul high schools, bringing in an average of $736 per month.

​Similarly, Hafsa, a 23-year-old woman, became a mobile money agent as a convenient way to pay for her university studies.

“My family was not allowing me to work in a male-dominant environment outside of my home,” she explained. “However, I was determined to find a job to help me earn money to support my higher education expenditures.”

Hafsa’s father agreed that she could work from home, and now she works part-time, earning $177 per month registering new customers. “I never thought one day I would run my own business,” Hafsa reflected. “I’m not just earning enough to pay for my own expenses, but I am able to pay money to my sisters and brother.”

While expanding mobile money services is only one of FAIDA’s goals, it has played a significant role in empowering Afghan women by giving them access to financial products and services. With their own mobile money accounts, thousands of women are now connected to the formal economy for the first time. Promoting women’s economic empowerment remains a challenge, but this approach has the potential for long-lasting change.