“I am very happy to have participated in the trainings provided through this project. These trainings have helped in boosting my confidence for expanding my business and becoming a prominent woman entrepreneur in Ilam district,”says Ms. Mamata Khanal who runs her Dairy Farm in Fakfokthum Rural Municipality of Ilam District.
In the past, Khanal was involved in cattle rearing through which she used to run her household, and she was able to sustain her family by doing so. The income started getting insufficient, however, as her kids grew older, and the needs of her family increased. Khanal thought of doing something on her own, but due to a lack of resources, she could not run her start up. It was her husband who had returned from foreign employment who stepped in to support her to pursue agriculture commercially. As a result, her local cattle farm was registered at the small and cottage industry office. Initially, for a year, Khanal invested in goat rearing but eventually switched to entrepreneurial animal husbandry through cow rearing as it had more lucrative returns. It has been five years since the firm was registered in Khanal’s name and they have been supplying dairy and agro-based products to the local market.
The firm however had to overcome many hurdles during its establishment. Being located in the rural municipality of Ilam district, access to transportation and logistics were not available, and human resource was difficult to find. “People did not want to work in the agriculture sector especially in rural areas like this. This made recruiting people to work in the farm difficult and operating business even more challenging,” Khanal shared. When asked how she overcame this, she answered, “I decided to provide salary on a monthly basis to the employees so that they would be motivated to retain their jobs instead of switching employers.”
This strategy proved to be very effective for Khanal. Her business was gaining pace and she even had plans to upgrade. However, since March 2020 when the lockdown was imposed all over the nation to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, business came to a total standstill. It created a situation of panic for many entrepreneurs like her. During all this, Khanal came in contact with WEAN Ilam President Ms. Sushila Sapkota who was approached by FWEAN for beneficiaries from Ilam district for the upcoming project, “Safety and Opportunity for Women in Asia”. Khanal gladly hopped in to be a part of this project since she wanted to bring her business expansion plan into fruition. She participated in various trainings facilitated by FWEAN with other women entrepreneurs.
With the aim to expand and improve her business, she participated in the 9 day Start and Improve Your Business Training, one day Ideas for new business creation and 5 days Entrepreneurship Development Training Training. Khanal who had no formal trainings related to entrepreneurship development before, was deeply influenced by this training that focused on that very aspect. “Before the trainings I had limited concepts of entrepreneurship. But today I have learned about the importance of marketing, packaging, promoting sales through the use of internet, employee management and so on. Apart from this, I can now use digital wallet, can access Zoom for trainings,” she informs proudly.
Today after finishing the trainings, Khanal has plans of expanding her business. She is planning to invest more in her cattle to increase her market share from 40 cows currently to 50 by the end of next year, all in addition to having seven buffaloes at her farm. She is targeting to fulfill the demand of dairy products in her ward and ultimately plans to meet the need of the whole municipality. She is also planning to promote her sales online, particularly Chhurpi (Hard Cheese), and she furthermore has recruiting more employees and proper management of her farm in the pipeline. She certainly has begun to implement the concepts that she had captured from the trainings. She and her husband are equally involved in the business, and both of them are currently working on improving their business plan in order to access subsidized loans provided to women entrepreneurs. Khanal is extremely ambitious about her business and confident in her ability to take it to new heights.
“The trainings made me fresh and knowledgeable during the lockdowns. I must say, it not only boosted my confidence but also developed network amongst other entrepreneurs. I am sure that it is this business that will make my future and that of my kids very bright”.
Khanal is currently seeking consultations from WEAN Ilam and FWEAN regarding accessing loans for women entrepreneurs at a subsidized rate.