January 14: South Asian Festival on Handicrafts brought together experts and entrepreneurs from the region to discuss difficulties and exchange learnings on its second day.
The three-day festival is being organized at Hotel Annapurna, Kathmandu by Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), Nepal to showcase a wide range of products, branded as Nepal Ko, produced by village artisans under its project Making Market Works for the Conflict Affected. The project, supported by Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) and managed by the World Bank, is being implemented in seven districts in Nepal, reads a statement issued by PAF.
On Saturday, PAF Nepal’s Executive Director Nahakul KC, Indus Heritage Trust (Pakistan)’s Chairperson Siddiqa Malik and Asian Heritage Foundation (India)’s Executive Director Ankush Seth discussed how handicraft industry could be a tool to catalyze the village economy.
During the plenary discussion moderated by ex-National Planning Commission (NPC) member Bimala Rai, PAF Nepal’s Executive Director KC said, “Development of Handicraft industry can generate jobs, encouraging youths to explore livelihood options within Nepal.”
Indus Heritage Trust (Pakistan)’s Chairperson Malik said, “In South Asia, we have a common culture, a same thread that goes around. But it is so difficult for artisans and products to move in and out the country. We need to find common solutions to these common problems.”
According to Asian Heritage Foundation (India) Executive Director Seth, South Asia is home to a quarter of the global population, and the region’s craft industry has a potential to revitalize the economy of South Asia.
The second panel of the day brought together gender and social economist Dr Bina Pradhan, Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association Nepal (FWEAN)’s first Vice President Reeta Simha and prominent women entrepreneur Shyam Badan Shrestha to discuss women entrepreneurship. The discussion was moderated by Sangeeta Thapa, executive director of Siddhartha Arty Gallery.
Dr Pradhan said that it is difficult to add rural women entrepreneurs to value chains, so policy makers and programmers need to make a concerted effort.
FWEAN’s Simha said, “We have skills, but what we lack is technology, so we need to focus on technology development.”
Woman entrepreneur Shrestha said, “During the blockade of 1990, we realized that we have raw materials in abundance, but we must learn how you can use them.”
More than 100 Nepali artisans from rural, excluded and conflict-affected communities are showcasing and selling their products in the festival, which concludes on Sunday, January 14.