A Gym of One’s Own

Masuma Hossaini works out at her Alzahra Fitness Sports Club.
Photo: USAID/ABADE/Sohrab Samanian

Sports and fitness buff Masuma Hossaini is determined to educate fellow Afghan women and girls on the health benefits of staying fit through exercising and to provide a safe environment where they can work out.

‘Taking care of one’s health is not a luxury; it is a necessity,’ says Hossaini, owner of Alzahra Fitness Sports Club. ‘There are very few fitness centers for women in Kabul. Opening another branch will give more women access to fitness facilities.’

Hossaini, who has won medals in local and international taekwondo competitions, including a gold medal in Iran, opened her first sports club in 2007. She is now set to open a third branch as a result of a partnership with USAID through its Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises (ABADE) Project. The new fitness club will offer regular gym services, self-defense classes for women and girls, and salon and spa services.

The project helps small and medium enterprises develop businesses by providing capital, equipment and technical support in operations and management. The enterprises, in turn, invest in additional plant structures and equipment, and create new jobs.

ABADE is a $105 million project that runs from October 2012 to October 2016. The Alzahra Fitness Sports Club is one of 127 public-private investment partnerships that have been formed with Afghan small and medium enterprises, nearly 40 percent of which are managed or owned by women.

This story was originally published on the USAID website. The ABADE Project is implemented by IESC through the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance, or VEGA.