A Review of Objectives, Activities, and Future Plans AWCCI, Organizational Document (V6) - Page 14

is to attract the attention of socially conscientious consumers who may be interested in supporting the economic empowerment of Afghan women. Products that are produced by Afghan women-owned companies, along with those companies that employ a majority of female staff, are eligible to apply the label to their products and include it in their promotional material. The campaign is promoted on social media using the hashtag #MadeByAfghanWomen. Support for Women’s Markets in Urban Centers The AWCCI has devoted considerable time and resources to support women’s markets throughout Afghanistan. This includes efforts to revitalize existing women’s markets in various cities, as well as launch new Friday Markets to promote women-made products such as handicrafts and processed foods. Work on improving and expanding the network of women’s markets has been undertaken with significant collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Inclusion of Women Businesses in Domestic and International Trade Shows and Exhibitions Prior to the launch of the AWCCI, Afghan businesswomen faced a number of obstacles in terms of participating in both domestic and international trade shows and exhibitions. Most Afghan women- owned businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with little capacity to advocate for inclusion in these events. More often than not, small- scale female producers are simply unaware of such events in the first place. Through AWCCI’s rigorous advocacy, Afghan businesswomen are now selling their products at every major national and regional trade show and exhibition. The AWCCI ensures that its members are notified of the opportunity to participate in such sales events, and also works with international donor organizations to secure funding for travel, when possible. ‘Buy from Afghan Women’ Campaign The Buy from Afghan Women promotional program 1,910 Women participants trained in various subjects through AWCCI programs 405 Women-owned businesses participated in domestic exhibitions arranged through the AWCCI 150 Women-owned businesses participated in international exhibitions arranged through the AWCCI 15 Businesses approved to use the ‘Made by Afghan Women’ label on their products was one of the very first initiatives planned and implemented by the AWCCI following its approval as a chamber of commerce. Unlike the more complex Made by Afghan Women labelling initiative (which involves a certification process), the Buy from Afghan Women program is purely a promotional activity. Besides promoting the products of its members on its social media platforms, the AWCCI also publishes a quarterly booklet that showcases the products of its member companies. The campaign is promoted on social media using the hashtag #BuyFromAfghanWomenBusinesses. ‘More Afghan Women in Business’ Campaign • Launch marketing fund: Develop a revolving marketing and promotion fund that would provide small-scale loans for businesses that need promotional items (e.g. videos, brochures, etc.) • Permanent showrooms for women-made products: Identify an appropriate commercial space in Kabul to sell products produced by AWCCI members. If the business model for Kabul proves successful, the concept could be expanded to include regional countries. In March 2019, the AWCCI launched the More Afghan Women in Business campaign. The purpose was twofold; first, to promote entrepreneurship among young Afghan women, and second, to encourage unlicensed women-owned SMEs to register their businesses, join the formal economy, and take advantage of the benefits that licensing brings. As part of the campaign, half-day seminars were held in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Jalalabad, with ongoing planning for a seminar in Kandahar. The seminar agenda consisted of lectures in business-related topics from subject matter experts, as well as panel discussions featuring successful businesswomen. Each event also included an exhibition showcasing women-owned businesses, to give participants real-world examples of the success they could have as entrepreneurs if they apply themselves. The AWCCI has built a database of participants of the seminars, and as a result will be able to contact them in the future with notifications of training opportunities or for research purposes. The campaign is promoted on social media using the hashtag #MoreAfghanWomenInBusiness. Support for Afghan Women Investors Business Match-Making Among Women Business Owners Investigating Opportunities for Women Investors Besides promoting the sales of Afghan women-made products to domestic and international consumers, the AWCCI also works to promote sales among Afghan women themselves. This is done in part through business match-making events organized by the AWCCI, in which women have the opportunity to source raw material and services from other women. AWCCI Quarterly Magazine Every quarter, the AWCCI produces a magazine for print and online distribution that profiles Afghan women-owned businesses. The objective is to inform readers about the many options available if they wish to procure goods or services from Afghan businesswomen. Future Sales-Related Goals: The AWCCI has the following short and intermediate- term plans to provide sales support to its constituents: • Increase involvement in SheTrades: Continue to work with the ITC on integrating Afghan businesswomen into the SheTrades program • Increase sales of MBAW-certified products: 13 Pursue all available options to increase exports of MBAW-certified products, to include supporting sales on emerging digital platforms • Women’s Business Innovation and Acceleration Hubs: The AWCCI would like to repurpose and rebrand existing women’s markets as innovation and acceleration hubs. This would involve the launch of additional units and activities within the markets to allow the space to be used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Objective: Reduce risk for female investors in the Afghan economy by providing market insights, improving access to finance, and facilitating access to industrial infrastructure Investment Support Initiatives and Activities: One of the overarching goals of the AWCCI is to encourage women to participate in the Afghan economy. In most cases, AWCCI’s members consist of SMEs that have been launched with minimal investment, as Afghan female entrepreneurs typically face significant difficulty securing startup capital. There are exceptions, of course, and the AWCCI works to support Afghan women of financial means to invest their money into the economy. To this end, the AWCCI has conducted several studies of different sectors to identify risks and opportunities for investment. This includes studies of the dairy and silk sectors of Afghanistan, to determine if certain industrial processes along the value chain could be profitable destinations for investment. Working with Lending Institutions to Develop ‘Female Friendly’ Loan Products As mentioned in the preceding section, most aspiring Afghan female entrepreneurs face significant challenges obtaining startup capital. Recognizing this obstacle, the AWCCI has arranged meetings with Afghan lending institutions in order to develop loan products that are accessible for female borrowers. To date, the AWCCI has signed Memorandums The AWCCI has been a valuable partner for us as we work together to realise the goals of the National Export Strategy. Our shared aim is to strengthen the Afghan economy and increase opportunities for both Afghan men and women. Our collaboration with AWCCI in completing this review marks an important step in this journey and we look forward to future collaboration. - Arancha González, Director, International Trade Centre of Understanding (MoUs) with three banks – The First Micofinance Bank of Afghanistan, Afghanistan International Bank, and Ghazanfar Bank – that outline amended loan requirements for female Afghan entrepreneurs. Increasing Access to Industrial Parks As Afghan women become ever more relevant players in the economy, they will require more facilities to scale up existing businesses and invest their capital in new industrial operations. Industrial parks are a key component to supporting the ambitions of Afghan women industrialists, and the AWCCI has taken two routes to increase Afghan businesswomen’s access to industrial park facilities. The first route has involved advocacy for space in existing industrial parks to be allocated for the use of Afghan women-owned businesses. With its seat at the High Economic Council (HEC), the AWCCI was able to propose this course of action directly to President Ghani and the relevant Ministers. On 1 September 2018, a new policy was approved by the HEC which designated 15-25% of space at existing and future industrial parks for use by Afghan women-owned businesses. The second route is far more ambitious and complex, which is an effort to develop women’s industrial parks in Afghanistan’s major cities. In early 2018, the AWCCI began communicating with its partners in the Afghan Government and the international community to identify an appropriate space for a trial women’s industrial park and prepare it for launch. 14