Baked goods from Tajikistan

Zarafshon’s Future Looks Delicious

ZafrahsonAt 49 years old, Zarafshan has experienced significant strife in her home country of Tajikistan. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, civil war broke out between the Gorno-Badakhshan region where she lives and the rest of the country. While peace was reached, the local population remains marginalized and government services are scarce, compounding poverty.

There were many times when circumstances could have overwhelmed her. And yet throughout this, she managed to get an education, get married, and raise three beautiful children. But it was often difficult as she and her husband faced chronic unemployment.

For Zarafshon, a training offered by Central Asia Institute – Tajikistan was the start of her journey to stability. After attending an initial financial literacy training, Zarafshon joined the inaugural class of the ASPIRE women’s entrepreneurship program, launched by CAI-Tajikistan in 2019. She utilized the knowledge she attained in the training and her cooking skills to start a small business.

Today, nearly three years later, her business is thriving. She bakes, on average, 80 kulcha (mini bread loaves), each day, earning a $30 daily profit. And her family has joined in on the venture. Her oldest son helped her write a World Bank grant application, which they won, awarding them $1,500 for additional equipment. This women’s month, we’re proud to celebrate Zarafshon and her perseverance to take a chance and believe in herself!

Zafrahson working in her bakery

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