Micro entrepreneurs earn decent incomeJit Bahadur Giri, 45, of Irkhu VDC in Sindhupalchok district led a hard life, scratching a living from his small farm.
Jit Bahadur Giri, 45, of Irkhu VDC in Sindhupalchok district led a hard life, scratching a living from his small farm. He toiled in the fields that produced barely enough to feed his family for nine months of the year.
Bad times started after he suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of 30, which left him unable to do hard labour in the fields. While he was pondering his and his family’s future, he got an opportunity to receive training from the Micro Enterprise Development Programme. In 2009, he learned to make different products from hog plum, locally known as “lapsi”.
In the same year a cooperative comprising nine members from his place was formed to produce Lapsi Candy, “mada” (dried pulp and peel of hog plum) and “paun” (sour candy).
When the enterprise yielded less than the expected income, the other members of the cooperative left. So, in 2010, Giri decided to go it alone. He made a profit of Rs40,000 that year which encouraged him to expand his business.
Last year, his turnover amounted to around Rs440,000 and he made a net profit of Rs125,000. “The profit would have been higher if the earthquake had not destroyed the mixing machine and raw material used to produce the candy,” he said.
Giri resumed production after the Rapid Enterprise and Livelihoods Recovery Project (RELRP) under the UNDP helped him with equipment. He has bought land worth Rs225,000 and paid the fees of his younger son who is pursuing an engineering degree in Pokhara with the income of the last five years. He is so encouraged by the business that he wishes to involve his son in it and diversify once he completes his degree.
Giri is just one example of the dozens of families in Sindhupalchok who have been making a good living through the various micro enterprises that have been established in the district.
Sher Kumari Shrestha, 46, of Attarpur VDC is another entrepreneur who earns a good income by making briquettes, a biomass fuel which is a substitute to charcoal. She works with 25 other villagers in a cooperative in Sikre village in the VDC which owns a small enterprise. Shrestha earns Rs3.50 per briquette. Her daily production amounts to around 300 briquettes, and she takes home Rs1,000 everyday. She makes about Rs30,000 during the six months that the season lasts, as briquettes are produced only during the winter and summer. “I had to fully depend on my husband for every penny before starting to make briquettes. Now I am helping him,” she said.
According Sushil Gyawali, chairperson of Himalayan Briquettes which has a 90 percent share of the briquette market, around 1 million briquettes are sold across the country annually, and 85 percent of them are produced in the four VDCs in Sindhupalchok that are supported by RELRP Shristi Rajbhandari, communication officer at RELRP, said her office planned to revive 12,059 micro enterprises that were destroyed by the earthquake in Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchok, Kavre, Dolakha, Ramechhap and Sindhuli districts. There are 2,110 such projects in Sindhupalchok district alone.
The project is helping dozens of micro enterprises which include coffee, off-season vegetable, poultry, goat keeping, pig raising, hog plum, cardamom, boutique, advanced tailoring, beekeeping, mushroom and herbal distillation, said Chattra Mishra, district coordinator.