My name is Munavvara Chillaeva. I live in Dushanbe city in the Republic of Tajikistan. For generations the women in my family have been practicing the craft of embroidery with gold threads. My love for it comes from early childhood memories, when I spent hours watching my grandmother and aunts create traditional wedding gowns. As I grew older I began to learn the craft, embroidering my entire dowry with gold threads. After my wedding I had 4 small children and a household to take care of, which left me with no time to continue to pursue my hobby. I would still look through my dowry sometimes and remember how the daylight used to hit the threads like magic rays of the sun.

Everyone has a dream of which they think when they’re alone, and mine was to give my grandmothers’ art form a new life. I once again took up embroidery, first only on handkerchiefs and capes as gifts to relatives and small orders from customers. Gradually I was invited to exhibitions and fairs, but was never able to attend because my production quantities were too low.

Knowing about my unwavering desire to start a business, my husband encouraged me to apply for a loan and I received the first $1,000 in MDO ‘Humo’ at the beginning of 2016. Within the next 12 months I fully repaid my first loan ahead of schedule, made some small renovations, bought a sewing machine and received a second instalment, with which I funded two more working stations and employed my first apprentices.

Backed by a 3rd loan of $2,000, I attended my first fair which was attended by artisans from all over Tajikistan. Over 4 months of preparation, my team and I created over 20 items which we presented to astonished organizers and visitors over the 3-day fair.

The Republic of Tajikistan declared 2018 as the year of Tourism and Folk Crafts Development. Seeing an opportunity for growth with a rise in demand for manual work, I decided to apply for a 4th loan in June 2018 to increase my collection of needlework.

The loans I have received from MDO ‘Humo’ have allowed me not only to realize my childhood dream of reviving the arts of my ancestors, but to turn my passion into a profitable business which currently employs more than 10 apprentices.