Name: Ahmad Shah Rahimi
Age: 25 years
Location: District 10, Kabul (Afghanistan)
With the fall of the Taliban regime over two years ago, Ahmad’s flower business has begun to bloom.
“Now the Taliban is gone, people are able to have proper wedding celebrations,” says Ahmad. “Before, under the Taliban, these types of celebrations were illegal.”
Ahmad started his small flower shop five years ago and struggled to earn a living on less than 500 Afghani ($10 USD) a week. Now, with wedding celebrations and parties on the rise, Ahmad is taking home over 2000 Afghanis ($40 USD) a week.
But with demand soaring, Ahmad faced a problem of keeping enough flowers and decoration materials in stock to respond to wedding orders. In Afghanistan, wedding preparations are often made just a couple days before the event, leaving little time to procure necessary supplies.
“I lost a lot of opportunity to sell decorations because I didn’t have them in time for the events,” says Ahmad. “But almost all of the money I make goes to supporting my family, so I couldn’t buy materials in advance. I just sat and watched business opportunities go by and couldn’t do anything.”
In February of this year, Ahmad took a micro-loan of 7500 Afghani ($150 USD) from Mercy Corps’ microfinance program and invested in a variety of materials for his shop. Now, he says his sales have skyrocketed and his customers are a lot happier with the selection he is able to offer.
“I thought about taking a loan from a money-lender before I knew about Mercy Corps’s program, but my family advised me against it,” he says. “Money lenders charge very high fees and can cause you a lot of problems. They are not professionals. Mercy Corps has not only given me a proper loan, they have also shown me how to run a more professional business and expand it.”