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From Humble Beginnings to the Mattress Business

Bank The First MicroFinance Bank – Tajikistan
Client Mrs. Jobirova Lola
Location Dushanbe

At 45, Jobirova Lola is a successful entrepreneur owning a thriving business in the capital of Tajikistan employing 52 people. Her beginnings were very humble. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and its ripple effect put her out of work. Her husband was struggling to find employment after completing his mandatory service in the military. To make ends meet, she, along with her mother-in-law, started a small business of mattress making. Her husband also joined them subsequently. The initial days were very difficult as she barely had enough money to buy the materials. She was unable to raise money from her friends and relatives and was denied loans by banks. FMFB came to her rescue and she took her first loan in the year 2004. During the early days, she used to stitch the mattresses herself and sell them in the market. She did not have a place of her own to live nor could she afford to rent a shop in the market. Within six months she repaid her loan of TJS 600 ($270) and got a bigger loan from the Bank to expand the business. She employed two women assistants to help her in sewing. After that, she has never looked back. She procures her material from China and Turkey to create very artistic mattresses with intricate designs reflecting the culture of Tajikistan. Slowly she grew her business to employ almost 40 women of which four are hearing and speech impaired women. She now rents 570 square meters of floor space for making the mattresses and has purchased 32 sewing machines. She adopts the strategies of ‘make to order’ and ‘make to stock’. She has worked out contracts with hospitals, universities, educational institutions and wedding halls to supply these mattresses.

Today Jobirova lives in her own house with her four children and aspires to send them abroad for higher studies. She has managed to buy three properties in the city. Her elder daughter and son-in-law have also joined hands with her to support the family enterprise. Her latest loan from FMFB is more than 1,300 times (TJS 800,000) the first loan she availed in 2004. Her monthly turnover is about USD 7,500. To expand and diversify her business she has started the business of selling household curtains. She has also opened a grocery store employing 12 more. She aims to grow her business further by opening stores to attract tourists as well.