June 6: Traders and businessmen have started to change their profession after the lockdown affected their business for a long period. Individuals involved in small and medium enterprises are switching their businesses. Most individuals are now involved in the vegetable business.
Entrepreneurs say that they were forced to change their profession after the government imposed the lockdown to curb coronavirus pandemic.
Raj Thakur, a barber in Kuleshwor for the past five years, is currently selling vegetables from his salon. He said that he started selling vegetables after emptying the saloon to support his family of five after the government authorities did not allow him to open his salon during lockdown.
"As the prohibitory order has been extended, it has become difficult for us to meet the monthly expenses. So now, I am selling vegetables and fruits," he said.
Rajendra KC of Dhading, who has been trading electrical goods near Khasibazar in Kalanki, faced a similar predicament.
He started his business three years ago after taking a loan of Rs 500,000 from a cooperative. Now, he has been selling chicken meat outside his shop.
"It's been three years since I started my business. But with the onset of the pandemic, the debt has increased rather than declining," he said. “So, I was compelled to switch the business. My earnings from selling meat has somehow helped me to pay the rent of the shop,” he said.
Even last year, the number of people changing their profession due to the long lockdown had increased significantly. According to the data released by the Nepal National Trader’s Federation (NNTF) last year, about 40 percent of the shutters used for commercial purposes in the Kathmandu Valley at that time were empty due to the extended lockdown.
NNTF President Naresh Katuwal said that most of the small traders have been selling vegetables and fruits outside their shops to make a living. He informed that many involved in clothing business, fancy-dress store, footwear business, barber, and tea shop business have changed their profession after their business was halted for a long duration due to the lockdown. Although he is not sure about the exact number of such individuals he expects that the number will grow rapidly in case the lockdown is further extended.
Stakeholders say that the businesses related to fancy dress, electronics, salons, transportation, and hotel are the most affected among the small and medium businesses. The entrepreneurs are worried as they are required to pay hefty rent for the shutter space and are not able to run their business due to the lockdown.