To better understand how COVID-19 has impacted Eurasian women in the economy, CIPE reached out to its network of partners and contacts to encourage women entrepreneurs from across the region to tell their personal stories of challenge, success, and change over the past months. CIPE received more than 20 essays from women in six countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Strict lockdowns and restrictions on movement meant that many women business owners faced new difficulties in their families and their enterprises. As daunting as these challenges have been, these stories demonstrate how five women in the Eurasia region found their internal strength to forge ahead and develop creative and compassionate solutions.
Several common themes emerged from the stories, demonstrating these women’s ability to use creativity and compassion as effective tools to lift up their families, employees, and communities.
Compassion and Community – Through their businesses and responses to the pandemic, many of the women addressed specific economic and personal hardships women have faced and the comradery they found in dealing with the situation. Their work highlighted the need for women to support other women, to help single and divorced mothers, provide childcare while women work, and increase women’s financial independence.
Overcoming Adversity – Many of these women had experienced personal loss, economic and social barriers, and increased family responsibilities that challenged them in new ways. Several used these experiences as inspiration to start their own businesses, and then build on pandemic challenges to pivot to new strategies and find a way to continue supporting their employees and clients. Several women shared stories emphasizing the role of their local communities during the pandemic. Friends, neighbors, and loyal client bases supported the women’s businesses as they adapted to restrictions and new challenges, helping their businesses to survive and even thrive.
Adaptive Solutions – The challenges of the pandemic pushed some women to create or expand their digital presence, whether building a website, selling on e-commerce platforms or advertising through social media platforms. Through these tools, women retained and even expanded their client bases despite restrictions and economic challenges. Others faced formidable logistical challenges, leading them to look for new markets, engineer creative transportation solutions, and overcome trade barriers to keep business running smoothly.