In the beginning, Shahlo and her small team sewed different types of clothes and did not had any specific audience, thus the business was not as successful as she had wanted. After applying for the project “Mentoring of women in business”, a Tajik consultant with valuable experience- Rahmat Haqulov was selected as her mentor.
Shahlo a came into the project with three questions:
- How can I create a team of highly qualified personnel?
- Where can I find orders for tailoring?
- How can I develop the right strategy and marketing of my enterprise and increase the competitiveness of our products?”
During the teamwork, Rahmat recommended Shahlo to start with small and medium scale companies to get orders. In addition, mentor Rahmat helped her with of hiring qualified personnel and advised on business planning. As a result, in less than 5 months, Shahlo has signed contracts with four companies, and now her tailoring workshop prepares high quality uniforms and overalls.
“I am really thankful to the project as I had been working almost for 24 hours per day before. My mentor helped me to work smarter not harder- says Shahlo. For the moment, I have 10 professional dressmakers and a clear business plan for the future”
“Mentoring of women in business” is one component of the SECO financed “Women in business” initiative, which is implemented by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the frame of the Small Business Initiative programme. The initiative is unique for the country, where 42 % of women are self-employed and are increasingly looking at entrepreneurship as a viable source of income.
The duration of the project is 9 months, however after 5 months of working, some results have been very promising. Shahlo along with other 10 women in business demonstrated her products and shared her experience and challenges during the interim-results Forum held in Dushanbe on 21 January. The Forum presented all success stories of women involved in the project in a cozy atmosphere and under the hashtag #developing my country. More people came than expected. Probably because the mentorship practice is a novelty for Tajik businesses, and it is getting popular amongst entrepreneurs.
During her speech in the Forum, Firuza Nasyrova, the Director of IDEA company, the local partner of EBRD, stressed the importance of the project by saying: “The prosperity of female entrepreneurship in Tajikistan can be the engine of progress and economic growth. More successful companies, more new jobs and happy families”.