Rukhsara Mammadova is from the village of Amiraslanly, Gadabay District. Although she is a primary school teacher by her profession, she has never worked in school. Rukhsara got married at the age of 20 and since then has dedicated her life to her beloved ones and family hearth.
It was 10 years ago when Rukhsara’s husband passed away and the young woman was obliged to take care of herself and her two children. Her destiny induced her to revive the small family business – a bakery used to be run by her late husband.
“I never thought I would become an entrepreneur. First days were very difficult for me, because I could not get a handle on business” – remembers Rukhsara those years.
The dedication and hard work of our heroine paid off – over the years the growing demand for their products have enabled the company to hire more labor. Although Rukhsara often thought about expanding and diversifying her small business, she lacked courage and capacity to advance her business. She was afraid to fail and loose capital.
The EU-funded Project “Accelerating development of sustainable micro-entrepreneurship in rural regions of Azerbaijan” (ADSMIRRA) implemented by Azerbaijan Micro-finance Association (AMFA) considerably encouraged her. Besides, her experience of cooperation with Association of Women Entrepreneurship Development in Azerbaijan motivated Rukhsara to join the Project.
Through participation in various activities within the Project, Rukhsara’s self-confidence and strength grew. Her business plan to expand her small business was evaluated by the jury and Rukhsara received a grant for realizing her business plan. Later she received the highest score in the competition held within the framework of the Project in the category of “Entrepreneur Woman”.
Rukhsara emphasizes: “I am delighted to join the Project. By participating at trainings and events I have expanded my knowledge, skills and communication experience. I dreamed of setting up my own pastry house but, to be honest, I was afraid. Fortunately, the AMFA staff assured me that I could definitely manage it”.
Rukhsara’s “Tasty Sweet House in Gadabay” has been serving customers for almost a year. Today the product range of Rukhsara’s pastry house is very wide – here along with national sweets (goghal, shakarbura, pakhlava, badambura, etc.), they make universal desserts – cakes, pastries, cookies, rolls and other sweets. There is everyday demand for goghals (spicy oily buns) and variety of rolls, and for birthdays customers traditionally order cakes.
Despite her busy schedule, she feels herself very comfortable in the role of a female entrepreneur. “I think everybody wishes to see the results of the done work and recognition by people. People’s demand for the pastries we bake is the biggest reward for me”- adds Rukhsara.
Thanks to the income derived from her small business she has equipped her house with a heating system, which is much needed in winter. Besides, expanding her business, Rukhsara has been able to provide jobs for fellow villagers. So, a year after the opening of the pastry house, the number of employees increased by 2 persons.
Rukhsara Mammadova is one of the few women entrepreneurs in Gadabay District where strong patriarchal traditions still prevail. Notwithstanding this fact, today her pastry house is a decent competitor to the businesses run by men in the district. Her bakery and pastry house is among the three most popular similar establishments in the region. Ruksara has big plans – she is determined to start selling her products to neighboring districts as well.
“I wish all Azerbaijani women believe in themselves, consistently develop and never be afraid of anything. Our women are very talented, they need only some support to reveal their capabilities”.
AMFA implemented the European Union-funded “Accelerating Development of Sustainable Micro-entrepreneurship in Rural Regions of Azerbaijan” (ADSMIRRA) Project in the economic regions of Ganja-Gazakh, Guba-Khachmaz, Shaki-Zagatala and Aran in 2018-2021. The Project aimed at strengthening the potential of micro and small entrepreneurs in rural areas by providing trainings on financial literacy, business planning and trainings for cooperatives, mentoring, allocating capital for starting or expanding micro businesses, etc. In total, the Project has supported the launch of 37 start-ups, the expansion of 76 micro businesses and the creation of 83 jobs in rural areas of the country.