Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, AMURT engaged with the community to build stability and facilitate recovery. AMURT’s focus was on getting children back to school and providing support to their mothers. Hence, AMURT has been providing skills and small enterprise training to 20 women’s groups in three communities in Sindupalchowk District. Most of the women participants are from low-income backgrounds. With AMURT’s support, the women have started enterprises ranging from liquid soap making, to tailoring, to vegetable gardening.
Forty-six women received a training in year-round organic vegetable gardening using low technology greenhouses (“tunnel gardens”). The training included a field trip to a government farm where the women learned about the need to grow local varieties of rice with organic inputs. Hybrid rice from India is destroying indigenous seeds and the soil, as it requires considerable chemical fertilizer. The women also learned about selling seeds and seedlings as opposed to the vegetables themselves, which is more profitable; and about producing cash crops such as ginger.
One of the more successful participants is Deu Kumari Sakya, who cultivates in two “tunnel gardens.” She has successfully transitioned to organic farming, using organic manure and natural pesticides to protect her crops. She is cultivating chili, cauliflower, tomatoes and cabbage in her newly prepared beds, and has started a nursery for growing seedlings.
Many families in the area keep one or two cows for milk production for the home and for sale. AMURT trained fifty-nine women in better cattle management practices. Now they are collecting cow urine for making manure, paving the floor of their cattle sheds to improve cleanliness, and planting fodder grass to feed their animals in the dry season. AMURT provides ongoing technical support to the women through Mohan, a local vet, who has a strong sentiment for community development.
Enterprising Women Tailors
Fourteen of the tailors trained by AMURT have established home businesses with their own sewing machines. They are making clothes for themselves and family members, and are getting work from neighbors and other clients. In September 2016, four of the women opened a tailoring shop in Khadichour market with machines loaned to them by AMURT, and $800 capital raised by themselves. They are progressing well, and have even started their own tailoring training.
The Pourakhi Tailoring shop is a new business in Khadichour market. It was opened in September 2016 by four enterprising women who were counseled by AMURT and who participated in AMURT’s 5-month tailoring training. The four women (Sangita Karki, Deo Kumari, Binda Budhathoki and Padam Kumari) each contributed NPR 20,000 ($200) to build their initial capital, while AMURT loaned them two sewing machines and one interlocking machine.
The women were greatly motivated by an exposure outing organized by AMURT to draw inspiration from other small women-managed enterprises that only succeeded after many initial struggles. They have since increased their capital, and diversified their business by stocking cosmetic items and fashionable dresses; and cushions and shopping bags made by themselves.
The women are highly skilled and have started to accept their own tailoring students. One of their students was so impressed with their abilities that she left her previous teacher to join them.
AMURT outreach staff report that their record keeping is excellent, certainly an outcome of the business management training provided by AMURT in September 2016.
Everyone is hoping that this courageous group of women will succeed, and serve as a good example to others of the enterprising spirit of women.
One of the more successful enterprises supported by AMURT is Panchakanya Women’s Group in Tamche Village, who are making liquid soap. With training in business management and marketing, the women have developed a good product and strong markets.
AMURT provides ongoing consultancy services to the budding business women to enhance their chances of success. This is often in the form of a two-day program of SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis and action planning. While one group is being counseled for a half day, another group is observing to learn from their experience. This process enables each group to seek solutions for their own challenges, as well as learn from the experiences of others.
In June 2016, the fourteen members of the Panchakanya Women’s Group in Tamche Village, Attarpur VDC participated in a 2-day liquid soap making training organized by AMURT. They started to produce the liquid soap instantly after the training, and have been growing ever since. Initially, they needed lots of guidance, which was willingly provided by the trainer and AMURT staff. They needed help sourcing used plastic bottles, printing labels, and buying raw materials. Gradually, they divided the various tasks amongst the group members, and operated accordingly.
AMURT also provided a 4-day business and group management training to improve their record keeping, conflict management and entrepreneurial skills. After the training the women can better track their cash flows and make decisions without time and energy-consuming disputes. According to Anjana Shakya, the secretary of the group, their initial investment of NPR 34,000 ($340) has yielded tremendous results. So far they have sold 460 liters of products in seven different market areas. Even though they make a 200% profit on the product, they have not yet shared profits, but have been investing their income back into the business.
Read more in Nepal: Rebuilding the school network in Sindupalchowk district