AFGHANISTAN: This episode of 360-degrees Live Show hosted by Transcontinental Times features Afghan entrepreneur and social activist, Wazhma Ayoubi, where she has shared her life journey to support women who aspire to be entrepreneurs and social activists.
Ayoubi is the CEO of a leading carpet company in Afghanistan, AYOUBI, and is a social activist who has helped evacuate people from Afghanistan to different countries of Europe.
A highlight of Ayoubi’s life journey
Ayoubi comes from a small town in the north of Afghanistan, Kunduz. She derives her inspiration to help people and women in society from her father.
“My father comes from a wealthy background. He could have chosen to be anybody, but he chose to be a teacher, going from village to village to teach children. Watching him bring smiles to many faces, I knew that I wanted to do the same,” Ayoubi said in the interview.
Ayoubi has contributed to the education sector and the right to work, she has helped women achieve their potential and be somebody for themselves.
“I’ve had the joy to bring smiles to so many faces and families, which in turn brings joy to my life.”
Being the CEO of Ayoubi Carpet Manufacturing Company
“My grandfather was a merchant, when I was a child he would always tell me stories of how he would go to Indian and Bangladesh and meet different people. He was in the imports and exports, he learnt so much about different cultures and he would also introduce our culture to them. So at a very young age, the seed of entrepreneurship was sown into my life,” said the Afghan entrepreneur.
Ayoubi also has a clothing brand through which she promotes ethical and sustainable fashion in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is full of skilled labour, said Ayoubi. She took note of the skilled women in different cities of Afghanistan who have been in the carpet industry for generations. The country with the best carpet in the world had no platform to represent its handicraft. In the past, these women would sell the carpet to the neighbouring countries at a very low price and these countries would rebrand and label it as their own.
“It is not their work, it is our handicraft and they would sell it for a much higher price in the international market. I wanted to bridge this gap, so I took the opportunity to give these women a platform and hence created a factory for them, to create job opportunities and utilize their skills.”
Today, there are so many opportunities for women in entrepreneurship. They need to identify their passion and focus on giving it their best, they need to focus on what they want to give to the world. There are so many platforms that entrepreneurs could take help of today, they only need to recognize the right channels, said Ayoubi.
Talking about Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis
The social activist said that women in Afghanistan do not basic human rights, something as basic as going to school. Women in Afghanistan are not allowed to work, are denied the freedom of choice. There are many challenges, especially after the fall of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban. “The country has no money, banks have no money, people have no jobs.”
The Afghans that were fortunate have fled the country, but so many others are yet facing death threats, stuck in Afghanistan, who need urgent help. Different countries and organizations are helping evacuate Afghans, “we are raising funds for charter planes and negotiating with countries so that they accept Afghans.”
Ayoubi urged people from all countries to not just watch Afghans suffer but help them, even in the smallest way possible.
"Whenever the topic of Afghanistan is brought up, my heart gets heavy as any other Afghan at this moment. What’s happening in my country is very unfortunate, especially for the women of my country."