ICAWED Organizes a Regional Roundtable Discussion in Kandahar
On September 16th, 2015, The International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development (ICAWED) of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) organized a roundtable discussion on Indentifying Challenges and Exploring Opportunities for Businesswomen through networking and coordination at Kandahar province. The discussion was attended by Mrs. Ruqia Achikzai, director of Women Affairs, Mr. Hedayatullah Rahmati,Zone Director of the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), Ms. Maryam Durrani, CEO of Merman Radio, and social activist Ms. Rangeena, CEO of Kandahar Treasures, Government Officials, Civil Society Members, NGOs, and nearly fifty women entrepreneurs.
The main purpose of this roundtable was to identify the challenges and obstacles women entrepreneurs face and find out a way forward through coordination and networking with a specific focus on exploring opportunities for businesswomen available in national and international markets and to collect research data.
ICAWED’s Senior Researcher, Abdul Samad Katawazai, while delivering the opening remarks and briefs about the activities of ICAWED highlighted the aim of this as identifying the challenges and hindrances that lower the growth of businesses led by women entrepreneurs and exploring opportunities and data collection.
The participants took part in a roundtable discussion on identifying challenges and exploring opportunities for businesswomen. The panelists found the following challenges and opportunities:
- Kandahar regional market is mainly male dominated.
- Donor funded factories are inactive since funds have been discontinued therefore we must have self-sustained working factories.
- Embroidery is a brand of Kandahar; however, it is not supported by governmental and non-governmental agencies.
- High risk markets
- Standardization of products to compete against international markets
- Un-availability of skilled labor.
- Lower rate of literacy
- Lack of creative incentives
- Lack of market research and study to meet the demands
- Lack of resources and funds to sustain businesses
- Lack of proper utilization of opportunities
- Lack of professional development and capacity building trainings which meet the needs of women entrepreneurs.
- High support of international donor agencies
- Support of government agencies like AISA and ACCI
- Microfinance facilities
- Availability of industrial lands to businesswomen
- High profit opportunities due to limited competition
- Handicrafts, production, process of agricultural products, education, health, technology, and recreation are the prospect sectors for women entrepreneurs.
The keynote addresses were delivered by Mrs. Ruqia Achikzai regarding status quo of women led businesses and Mr. Hedayatullah Rahmati regarding the availability of opportunities for businesswomen in governmental and non-governmental sectors.