KABUL (Reuters) – An e-commerce platform that has thrived locally in Afghanistan is connecting sellers with customers around the world, providing an important opportunity for the war-torn economy and giving the latest new trend in the field especially for young women to start their small businesses.
Click.af, the e-commerce site, began in 2016 to provide Afghans access to the local market via the network, and last year it began sending global sales shipments, according to its founder Msewalleh Stanikzai. He said the idea behind the expansion was to connect local designers and craftsmen with a larger consumer base, especially Afghans living in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.
Maryam Al-Yousifi, 25, took the opportunity to reach out to consumers around the world. She launched a fashion website called Matchm a few weeks ago, and has received more than 10 orders for her clothes.
“I wanted my company’s products to reach global markets … It is a great achievement for us,” she said.
Her clothing combines traditional Western and Afghani design, and her e-commerce site features a range of women’s clothing, from beaded and embroidered dresses to a stylish blouse with sleeves. Prices vary from $ 12 to more than $ 100.
Economists said that despite poverty, corruption and poor infrastructure causing setbacks, Afghan e-commerce is giving women more opportunities to break into the business world in this conservative society.
“E-commerce can be a powerful tool for bringing greater gains to female entrepreneurs as it addresses outdated barriers of geographic isolation and limited access to information and finance,” said Lotfi Rahimi, a research fellow at the Pirone Institute, a Kabul-based economic studies center.
Al-Yousifi, who works in her business at night after completing her daily work in the media, said she believes that online platforms can give others like her a chance to experience entrepreneurship.
Al-Yousifi said these platforms can help women in Afghanistan, where the majority of citizens live below the poverty line, to overcome obstacles such as violence, instability and difficulty obtaining a loan.
“I think young people should not always be employees of a company or an office,” she said. “They should use their talents and have their own business.”