Empowering women in Tajikistan

Economic opportunities are limited in Tajikistan so large numbers of men are leaving the country to find work abroad. According to official estimates, approximately one seventh of Tajikistan’s population works abroad, leaving almost as many women to support family by themselves. These women are in urgent need of work but lack the skills and opportunities to make a decent living.

Women in business in Tajikistan

The National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan (NABWT) works with women training them in the skills they need to find work. With over 20 offices throughout Tajikistan, NABWT also works with young female entrepreneurs who are trying to start their own businesses.

“We work with women because they are the most vulnerable, especially as so many men are leaving the country to find work elsewhere,” said a spokeswoman at NABWT.

The business women often sell handicraft that they have made at home in local markets. However, many are unaware of their rights or what fees they need to pay. This is highlighted when the women cross borders to sell their goods in other countries. the women are often unaware of the customs procedures and have difficulties at the checkpoints. The NABWT employs a lawyer to work with business women to inform them about the rules.

NABWT had trouble delivering training at low cost, as the women it helps can’t always afford to pay for its services. It had also struggled to help the women to broaden their customer base and connect to potential customers.

VSO’s work with the NABWT

NABWT asked VSO Tajikistan to help them strengthen their business development activities. VSO volunteer Victoria Fletcher, is working as business development adviser. Vicky was ideal for this placement as she has years of experience  - at director level in the UK - of turning small business ventures into profitable and sustainable medium-sized enterprises.

With Vicky’s help, NABWT has recouped the cost of its training and increase the number of women learning important career skills. She has also helped NABWT to negotiate a contract with a US-based distributor which sells traditional crafts. This market has high potential market for Tajik goods which could lead to more opportunities for the business women. 

“VSO work to help local people make decisions about their own lives and futures.  It doesn't work in a way that says 'we know best' but allows the local communities to plan their own futures,” said Vicky.

NABWT has also streamlined its design process and revaluated the craft products so that the women involved can cover their costs and make a profit on their goods. 

The organisation is stronger than ever and reaching more vulnerable women every year. As a result of access to the American market, women with young families to look after are able to make a living without leaving their homes, selling handmade handicraft with skills taught by their mothers and grandmothers.

You can find out more about NABWT by visiting: http://nabwt.tj/en

Volunteer and business woman (Tajikistan - Secure livelihoods)

Challenge

Many women in Tajikistan lack the skills and opportunities to make a decent living.

Catalyst

Business development adviser Victoria Fletcher works with The National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan (NABWT) to improve the services on offer.

Result

NABWT is able to train and advise more women on how to set up successful, profitable businesses.

Tajikistan Secure livelihoods

How to apply

Interested in volunteering with VSO? Find out what you need to apply and begin your application process now.

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