In our last article, ‘Deep diving into the lives of five Nepali women entrepreneurs’ we wrote about what inspired 5 young women to start their own enterprise. We bring to you 3 more dynamic businesswomen who are becoming catalysts in slowly changing the landscape of entrepreneurship by inspiring young women through their examples.
While none of them were planning to become social entrepreneurs, few incidents and realizations in each of their lives prompted them to. One found inspiration in her grandmother’s knitting skills that hadn’t gotten the appreciation it needed. Another wanted to do something with her public health knowledge for the people in remote areas of Nepal who were ignorant of nutrition and menstrual hygiene. The third women entrepreneur always wanted to do something for her country so she took inspiration from her college internship at a village and started her journey with DIY products.
Read on more to know and get inspired by their experiences and stories.
Lorina Sthapit, Co-founder Aji’s Products
“My closeness to my grandparents, and the things I have learned from them, the stories, their wisdom, everything inspired me to become who I am”.
Since childhood, Lorina loved wearing clothes knitted by her grandma’s experienced and skilled hands. Her grandma used to make knitted socks and gloves and distribute it to their relatives and friends.
As Lorina grew up, she realized how valuable her grandmother’s skills were, and decided to help her get the deserved recognition. While working on it, she came across other talented elderly artisans whose skills she felt must be passed on to the coming generations.
The elderly not only have valuable skills but inspiring and extraordinary life stories and experiences. She remembers her grandfather’s story about his long journey to Lhasa for trading that fascinated her as a child. All those stories hold high cultural and historical value but they are not documented or told to the coming generations.
Lorina felt that unless she did something about it, all these stories and skills would be lost. That’s how Aji’s Products and Aji’s Podcast were conceptualized with the vision of empowering the elderly to live healthy and happy lives. At Aji’s, Lorina is not only learning entrepreneurial skills but also gaining the intuition, courage, and compassion required while working with the elderly. Aji’s values resonate highly with the values she inherited from closeness with her grandparents.
Bonita Sharma, Co-founder & CEO, Social Changemakers & Innovations (Sochai)
“The importance my mother gave to education and dreams has shaped me into a person who goes for things that she wants”
Sometimes the way to go with life is to stumble along and slowly find your path and that is what happened with Bonita Sharma. A few weeks back, Bonita visited a village in Terai where she met a woman who sold homemade alcohol for a living. The woman who lived in a small hut didn’t have sufficient food for two at her home.
Despite this, she eagerly offered to share her food with Bonita. No matter how deprived she was in terms of basic needs such as education, food and health, her ultimate goal in life was to accumulate enough savings to educate her two sons and make them independent in life. This determination and the act of kindness and selflessness at grassroots is what inspires Bonita every day and makes her realize there is so much that can be done to support these driven women in the community.
Bonita’s journey started by campaigning about nutrition along with other youth using innovative tools such as the Nutribeads bracelet in the community. After receiving a lot of positive responses and appreciation for their work, Bonita decided to run a full-fledged social business to help, aware and reach out to more women. However, it’s only easy said than done. She started Social Changemakers and Innovators (Sochai) as an NGO, then slowly and steadily she came across social entrepreneurship in her journey and realized there is no such thing as free lunch. Running a social enterprise has further broadened her horizon and helped her connect with the inspirational women at the grassroots level which keeps her grounded and motivated.
A public health student turned social entrepreneur now has adopted a holistic approach to providing these women not only the education on menstrual hygiene and nutrition but also skills like making handicraft bracelets and affordable nutritious food to empower them.
Rasana Shrestha, Cofounder, Nuga:
“In that remote farm of Nepal, I found that the farmer was doing everything by himself to run his farm. Then I thought that if a person that far away from Kathmadu can do this then why can’t we? It made me realize that there are so many problems that could be solved by an entrepreneurial mindset”
After enrolling in an MBA program at King’s College engraved the entrepreneurial mindset in Rasana Shrestha. During her time at college, she learnt about big corporate giants like Apple and Google but what she saw and experienced at Gulmi during her 2 months internship made her understand and realize the true essence and meaning of entrepreneurship.
Seeing a farmer do everything on his own, despite all the challenges and absence of basic facilities and infrastructure was truly an enlightening moment for Rasana. She came back with a different energy, skillset and loaded with coffee that would change her life for the better. With her interest in making DIY products and homemade remedies, she made body scrubs from the coffee she has gotten from Gulmi. This opened her doors to start an enterprise that she is so devoted to.
Today Nuga: offers more than 9 product lines that are 100% organic, natural and preservative-free. Moreover, with this enterprise, she has been able to accomplish her childhood dream of contributing to the economy and breaking the stereotypical comment about Nepal being a poor country, even though a small step.