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  • In Baghlan, Afghanistan, Istoray’s tailoring business is helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by providing masks at an affordable price to her community.
    AKF Afghanistan
Istoray: Unmasking new opportunities in a time of crisis

With the outbreak of COVID-19, Istoray’s business ground to a halt. A lockdown order on the market where Istoray’s business operated caused her, and many others, to lose their business and income.

“My business was on the brink of falling down, when I suddenly realised that I can save not only my business but also people of my community,” she said. “I analysed the market, saw the [demand for masks,] and started sewing,” she said. 

Thanks to a Canadian-supported programme in Afghanistan, she had been equipped in 2019 to grow her business and train new tailors through business skills training. When COVID-19 hit, she was prepared. Now she makes 400 to 500 masks every day out of her home which, with the help of her children, are sold locally. A nearby drugstore also stocks her masks in packages of 12.

Istoray is not only helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by providing masks at an affordable price to her community, she has found a way to thrive during a period of crisis. Selling masks has doubled her monthly income at a time when many businesses have struggled to make ends meet.

In the future, Istoray hopes to extend her business even further by producing other quality protective clothes -- once she finds a supplier who can keep up with her demand for materials.

By empowering women like Istoray, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is helping build communities and economies that are resilient to change and crises. Learn more about the Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Programme by clicking on the Aga Khan Foundation Canada site here.

This text was adapted from a story published on the AKF Canada website.