By [Ms] Halima Samimi
Reported by: Anis
Parwaz [Flight] Organisation’s programme for women’s economic development has been offering long-term loans to help poor women work in the areas of making carpets, kilims and other handicrafts. The organisation’s director, Mr Abdol-Aziz Sediqi, has been speaking to our reporter:
“Parwaz Organisation began its programme for women’s economic development in Kabul in 2003 and has been helping women develop their skills in carpet-making, embroidery, tailoring and other areas. We also offer loans to truly poor women who are facing financial problems. The loans are aimed at helping women financially and preserving our Afghan handicrafts with their global reputation.
“At present, our activities are at a basic level. We started by giving out loans of 2,000 to 5,000 afghanis [about $40 -100] and we’re going to increase this amount in the future. At the moment, around 600 women are benefiting from Parwaz’s loans.
“The loans are given to only one member of any family for a period of six months. The first month is free so they can work for themselves. At the end of the second month, they begin repaying the loan, which will be repaid in five months.
“With each repayment, we also take 50 afghanis [about $1] from the borrower. We have prepared books for them in which the money is saved for them. On the one hand, this turns into personal capital for the individual and on the other hand the organisation is strengthened. When the borrower takes out a second loan, the saved money will also be paid to her.
“Parwaz staff carry out assessments [the loan applicants] who are formed into groups in one neighbourhood, living close to each other. The women who are members of the group provide guarantees for each other and are given loans on the basis of their needs. At the time of repayment too the money is taken back from them as a group. The loans are given to women only because women are the deprived layer of the society and experience has shown that women repay their loans on time.
“In future, we intend to become self-sufficient, working without the support of any government or NGO, to turn the loan programme into a powerful bank. We will also try to give loans of 20,000 to 30,000 afghanis [$415-625]. With a sufficient budget, we could also provide loans to men with stronger guarantees.
“We also have plans for building houses and making them available to people with long-term loans. At present, our organisation is backed by an American international NGO [non-governmental organisation].”