Written by Menuka, 2011 LEADer and 2012 Fellow.
Last Saturday on 30th March, I attended a Young Women Entrepreneurs Summit as part of my fellowship with Women LEAD along with three other LEADers: Sujata, Aishwarya and Purnima. This was the very first summit where female entrepreneurs from all around Nepal came to share their ideas and learn from others’ experiences. I went there hoping to know the scale of women’s entrepreneurship in Nepal and get inspired by the speakers! There were people from all ages and different backgrounds: from women in restaurant and jewelry start-ups to MBA students to successful entrepreneurs. The key-note speaker, Allision Mooney, who is considered to be one of the best speakers in Australia, went through four personality types: playful, powerful, peaceful and precise, and how each is valuable and important to entrepreneurship. During the breaks I was able to talk with few of the women present and hear their stories. Most of them were above 30 but the way they talked and their passion for their work really impressed me.
During the “Inspiration Session”, I got a chance to hear the success story of Ms. Shyam Badan Shrestha, famous for her dolls and Ms. Hajuri Bista, who is the pickle queen. They both shared how they started their business and how their personal life was before they started their work. For them, their work means more than anything and now they are in their 40’s but then they still have that zeal to broaden their business. As a Nepalese woman, we think that our life changes after marriage, like after marriage all you need to do is take care of your family and do house hold chores. But in the work life balance session, Ms. Biina Rana and Ms. Seema Golchha stated that even though they are wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, they are also working women. They talked about how hard it was for them to convince their in laws to let them work but by crossing all the barriers they lived their dreams and now they are happily balancing their life.
When I was hearing the speeches of those women, I also felt like becoming one of them but then I thought “well… who is going to pay for my venture?” The next session on access to finance and business policy helped to solve my queries. Though I knew that there are lots of banks in Nepal, I never knew that they actually provide finance to start up new businesses and grow established businesses. And the fact that they supported and encouraged more women’s business and were ready to invest in their business boosted my confidence. The whole summit was really interactive and totally refreshing for me.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SUMMIT
● “After going to the summit I realized that in Nepal also there are women entrepreneurs. The way the guest speakers presented their work and experience was commendable- they taught me that it requires patience and hard work to reach the top and now I appreciate my talent.”- Sujata Khatiwada
● “In books there are things written about gender equality, but I’ve never felt that equality is present Nepal. I used to think that in Nepal it’s just the men who run businesses but I was wrong. In the summit, I was able to see and hear about the achievements of women entrepreneurs. Though I used to lack the confidence to start my own business, now I know if given the required resources women can start their own businesses”- Aishwarya Shrestha