Sometimes when business owner Kamila Sidiqi shows up to a meeting, she is the only woman in attendance. She knows it makes the men uncomfortable. But for her the solution is clear: companies need to hire and promote more women.
Despite their qualifications, Sidiqi noticed many female job seekers are unequipped for the search itself. They “are young intelligent women with university degrees, but no knowledge about how to get jobs,” she says.
To help these qualified women to seize open opportunities, Sidiqi founded Kaweyan Business Development Services (KBDS), a private company that educates Afghan women on business skills and employability.
With support from the USAID-funded Afghan Workforce Development Program (AWDP), Sidiqi’s KBDS trains women to create an action plan, perfect their interview skills, write compelling CVs and market their skills. The training accelerates a process that Sidiqi says can otherwise take more than two years.
KBDS also prepares mid-level professionals who want to augment their skills. Under AWDP’s direction, KBDS created curricula with input from partner companies so that the skills align with what they are seeking. AWDP’s demand-driven model is unique in Afghanistan.
Sidiqi’s staff gained approval from these businesses for the newly-designed courses that made women professionals not just more skilled, but more sought after.
Employers agreed to hire or promote those who successfully complete the training.
So far, 146 women in Kabul completed the KBDS program, of which 46 found jobs, received promotions or raises.
“Afghan people are tired of training programs without results,” says Sidiqi. “In AWDP, trainees can end up with a job or promotion. This creates greater value to Afghanistan.”
This success story was recently featured on the USAID Afghanistan website.