As a recent university graduate who was largely financially dependent on her family, Hamida’s biggest hurdle to independence was a lack of financial opportunities.
After graduation, Hamida was unable to find employment in her field. After joining the Jawana program she was inspired: why work for somebody else when it was possible to start her own business?
The USAID Women’s Leadership Development program offers a three-month leadership development program called Jawana. With a focus on building self-confidence Jawana offers the management skills necessary for women to become leaders in Afghan society. The Afghan Women’s Education Center is a proud partner in this project, and supports classes using the Jawana curriculum.
“Attending the Jawana program gave me the idea to stop looking to work and start my own small business,” she said. As a result, Hamida launched a professional photo studio run entirely by women and now can financially support her family.
To kickstart the venture, Hamida and her colleagues raised 120,000 AFN (1,650 USD) and received a small loan from a relative. After finding an affordable space and hiring five colleagues to help run the studio, she bought shop accessories and photography tools. The studio offers their clients a variety of photography services including portrait, artistic, modelling and photography for parties and events.
“We have a good number of clients now and we are accepted as professional photographers where we live,” says Hamida. “Our work style is different from others as it is the only photo studio operated by women in our area. Female clients feel more comfortable with us.”
After experiencing the life changing impacts of the USAID-WLD Jawana program, Hamida is confident that she has cultivated the skills and support needed to gain the respect of her community as a trusted photographer.