In 1984, a tea estate was established at Phidim, Paanchthar under a cooperative model. The company Kanchanjangha Tea Estate later became the first organic certified tea garden in Nepal. Since 2002, the company’s Managing Director Shanta Baskota Koirala has been relentlessly working to add bricks of success to the tea business started by her entrepreneur/politician father Deepak Prakash Baskota. Under her leadership, the company has become one of the major Himalayan orthodox tea producers/exporters of the country and extensively utilises internet and social media platforms to promote its products the world over. “Understanding mass production and innovative market strategies are of utmost importance to expand horizon of business,” she says.
The story of Trishna Singh Bhandari, who hails from Mahottari, is also inspiring. Founder of Mithila House Pvt Ltd, she is in business for the last two years with an aim to promote Mithila culture, arts and artisans. Her company produces and sells a variety of paintings, clothing and house décor that exclusively exhibit Mithila arts. Bhandari’s dream to become an entrepreneur goes back to her childhood when she used to get fascinated by Mithila arts of a small village in Mahottari. She wants to call her business as a community instead of a company. She shares, “We work with 15 artists who are mostly women from Janakpur and Kathmandu. Majority of the products that include painting, clothing and house décor are hand knitted and come in various range of colours.” Recently, Mithila House introduced a new range of pottery that blends Mithila and Newari culture.
For their achievements and contributions to entrepreneurship development in the country, Koirala and Bhandari were felicitated with the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2021’ and ‘Emerging Enterprising Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2021’ at the Standard Chartered NewBiz Business Women Summit and Awards.
In the programme organised by New Business Age Pvt Ltd, the publishers of New Business Age monthly magazine and Aarthik Abhiyan National Daily on January 29, 12 women entrepreneurs were awarded in six categories for their contributions in employment generation and women empowerment.
Veteran hotelier Maharajkumari Rama Rana Malla, chairperson of The Malla Hotel was honored with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for her four decades of contributions to the Nepali business sector. Malla, whose business portfolio includes a five-star property, a resort and a tour agency, is still active even at the age of 75.
Shreejana Rana, Executive Director of Annapurna Group of Hotels was honored with the ‘Business Woman of the Year 2021’ award. She has been running Hotel Annapurna for the last 56 years.
Similarly, Vidushi Rana, director of branding and business development at Kiran Shoes Manufactures was felicitated with the ‘Charismatic Business Woman of the Year 2021’ award. She has worked as a Brand Manager of Kumari bank for six years. Kiran Shoes Manufactures employs more than 3,300 people of which 65 percent are female.
Urmila Shrestha, CEO of Salt Trading Corporation Limited (STC), received the ‘Influential Business Woman of the Year 2021’ award. Shrestha has been serving in Salt Trading Corporation since 1998 shouldering different responsibilities as Department Manager, Deputy General Manager and General Manager. In 2014 she was promoted to the executive post of STC.
Similarly, seven women entrepreneurs each from seven provinces of the country were honoured under the ‘Emerging Enterprising Women of the Year 2021’ category. Champa Nepal, proprietor of Champa Shoe Center and Training, Biratnagar (Province 1) was awarded for her contribution to country’s industrial sector for the last nine years. Similarly, Chandrakala Baskota, owner of Rijal Plastic Udhyog, Bhaktapur (Bagmati Province) was awarded. Her company has been producing a variety of plastic untesils and employs ten workers.
From the Gandaki province, Ramkali Khadka, managing director of Women’s Skills Development Center, Pokhara, was honoured. Since its establishment in 1989, the center has been providing training to 1,400 women yearly. From Lumbini Province, Chitra Kali Budhamagar, owner of Kothi Himal Allo Kapada Udhyog, Pyuthan received the award. Established in 2007, her industry produces and sells items like cap, bag and apparels like coats and waistcoat.
Heema Kumari Upadhyay, owner of Bhawani Chhapakhana, Surkhet (Karnali Province) is the other recipient of the ‘Emerging Enterprising Woman of the Year 2021’ award. Upadhyay, who is in printing press business for the last seven years, plans to expand her business in other areas of the province.
Meanwhile, Heera Bhandari, managing director of B Polytechnic Institute, Dhangadhi was awarded from Sudur Paschim Province. Established in 2010, her company has been providing skill trainings on house building, tailoring, and hair styling.
The event comprised of two parts; the first part of the programme was completed last year but the final part was postponed due to the pandemic. Under the first part, full day training programmmes for business women from different parts of the country were organised on entrepreneurship and financial literacy at ten different centres of the country - Biratnagar, Birtamode, Birgunj, Janakpur, Hetauda, Narayangarh, Butwal, Surkhet, Dhangadhi and Pokhara. The programmes were participated by about 2,000 women entrepreneurs. In these programmes the women entrepreneurs also had an opportunity to interact with the representatives of various banks and financial institutions operating in those locations, the representatives of the regulating authorities concerned with business sectors and representatives of local government bodies. These programmes were highly successful based on the feedback the participants shared. The second and final part of the event, which was held at Radisson Hotel Kathmandu, comprised of two parts. Under the first part of the final programme, Women’s Summit was held in which leading business women and professionals from various sectors participated in a panel discussion titled ‘Promoting Women Entrepreneurship: Policies and Practices’ with another part being the awards distribution ceremony. The event was organised following the health safety guidelines as the pandemic situation is yet to come under total control.
The event held on January 29 at the Radisson Kathmandu Hotel was inaugurated by Minister for Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel, who in his speech acknowledged that the process of empowering women has not moved ahead at a desired pace in the country despite adequate provisions in the constitution. He said that women empowerment was necessary to foster entrepreneurship among women.
“The constitution is progressive in terms of gender equality. However, we have to focus on to make women feel that there is no gender discrimination, they are equal to men and their potential and capacity are realized,” remarked Paudel.
He also expressed the government’s commitment to promote and facilitate women entrepreneurs that ultimately help in achieving economic prosperity of the country.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Madan Lamsal, chairman and editor-in-chief of New Business Age Pvt Ltd, said that the initiative was aimed at honoring women entrepreneurs who have continued to pursue their businesses by overcoming all odds and adverse business conditions in the country.
Zarin Daruwala, cluster CEO India and South Asia Markets and Chairperson of Standard Charted Bank Nepal Limited, said that easier access to finance, better tech connectivity and easier market access would help in scaling up women entrepreneurship.
On January 30, a special function was held at the Shital Niwas, the presidential palace, where President Bidhya Devi Bhandari greeted the award winners. She pledged to resolve the problems faced by women entrepreneurs and remarked that it is not easy for women entrepreneurs to establish themselves in business. “I clearly understand that there is a big challenge for women to become entrepreneurs. But women should not lose confidence as the government is there to support them with various programmes,” she said.