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Harakat Conducts Online Public Private Dialogue to Discuss COVID-19 Impacts on Women’s Businesses

Date: 2020-05-05

On May 5, 2020, Harakat – Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility Organization (H-AICFO), in collaboration with the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI) and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), successfully conducted an online Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on COVID-19 Impact on Women’s Businesses, Challenges and Way Forward.

On behalf AWCCI and Harakat, Ms. Afsana Rahimi, AWCCI’s Chairperson, Ms. Parwarish Oryakhail, AWCCI’s Deputy CEO, Noor Alam Hakimyar, Harakat’s CEO, and Naser Majroh, Harakat’s PPD Manager, participated in the online PPD. Also, businesswomen, representatives from international organizations, and high-ranking government officials, including Mr. Abdul Karim Malikyar, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Shakib Sharifi, General Director of Planning and Coordination in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, and Ms. Mahnaz Anwari, Director of Private Sector in Ministry of Economy, were among the participants. 

The PPD's aim was to directly hear from women-owned businesses and to discuss major challenges posed on their daily operations.  Additionally, business closures, suspension of women’s economic activities, barriers on land and air corridor exporters, monthly rent payments and salary compensation were also highlighted during this online session. 

At the outset of the event, Ms. Oryakhail, thanked Harakat for organizing and supporting this online session, emphasizing the need and importance of this PPD.  She said, “In the current situation, as COVID-19 is spreading across the country, online PPDs play a major role in bringing business communities and government representatives together to discuss the impacts of this pandemic on the private sector, investments, and the economy, as well as, the best way forward.”  Deputy Minister Mr. Malikyar also expressed the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the private sector, but he also reassured the participants that the government will support Afghanistan’s private sector entities despite the struggles faced by all. 

Furthermore, each participant individually expressed their thoughts, shared difficulties that they have been facing, and conveyed how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses. At the same time, they appreciated Harakat and its funding partners (DFID and SIDA) for launching this much needed online PPD. 

Below are few mutual suggestions shared by the participants:

  • The AWCCI should submit a report and survey on the negative impacts of COVID-19 on women-owned businesses to the Presidential Place and the international communities
  • All the business chambers and private sector entities should draft a joint resolution that includes a short and long-term roadmap to curb challenges 
  • All the relevant ministries should provide information about export plans and tariffs on commodities. They should also consider women-owned products as one of their main priorities to be exported  
  • The Ministry of Economy should provide supportive policies and financial packages for women-owned businesses
  • Taxes for the current financial year should be exempted, or at least should be postponed to next year
  • Landowners should exempt the rents 
  • Any tax amendment implemented in Kabul should also be considered country-wide
  • Electricity bills for women-owned businesses should be postponed

As the session was coming to an end, Mr. Naser Majroh thanked all the participants and assured everyone that Harakat will support and stand alongside Afghanistan’s private sector and investment businesses throughout this global pandemic.