Entrepreneurship has been a very talked about issue in recent times, but it has yet to gain momentum in Nepal. In such a scenario it is rare to find a woman entrepreneur especially in her twenties. According to norms, women are supposed to stay at home and cook, whereas business is supposed to be opted for when your family is in it or after some years of experience working for someone else. Although it would be wrong to generalize this in the current era it has still left some marks left in the current generation. And Mala Thapa Magar was able to break those barriers and establish herself as a successful entrepreneur.
Mala runs a Allo(nettle fiber) industry in Budanilkantha. She learnt about Allo from one of her high school teachers who was also a trader of Allo; Allo or Urtica dioica is a plant used to produce nettle fiber which she imports from Bajhang, Bajura and Dang. She also worked in a processing farm for 2 years and then decided to start her own business. Now, she employs over a dozen people, and her products are highly demanded both locally and internationally.
She further plans to expand her business by exporting her raw Allo to Korea and getting them converted into fabric, bring them back to Nepal and make readymade clothes and sell them under her company’s tag. She is an ambitious woman and credits her mother for raising her alone and aspiring her to believe that she was capable of achieving anything without the help of a man. “My family is an example of the same”, says Magar, who has been living with her separated Mother since she was three months old.
When we asked her if she too wanted to go abroad, Mala smiled and said, “My friends there are proud of what I have become and advise me to continue what I’ve done. May be they themselves are facing problems. Now, the only purpose for me to travel abroad would be to make business deals for my Allo business.” She is passionate about what she is doing and believes that she started with Allo and will end with Allo.
Magar believes that are problems in business, but they are not permanent and we should not give up because of such problems. She wants to advice people to not care about their family background or education background to start a business because it doesn’t matter as long as we’re willing to learn and interested in it. She also wants to advice people to start small and not expect huge returns in a short period of time. “One can start small. My case is similar. I started with 1 lakh Nepali rupees. And right now, I am running a business that is worth 50-60 Lakhs,” she added.
Mala’s story serves as an inspiration to those women or anybody who fear to do business just because they lack confidence and information of the market. If one has the drive, then it is just a matter of time until they will start finding financial assistance, skill development training for women, among others. Women can achieve just as much as men can and the case is no different with entrepreneurship. And Mala Thapa Magar stands as a reinforcement to that thought.