It is evident today, how entrepreneurship, in the form of small and medium-sized enterprises, can indeed empower women. And, through time, it can indeed transform ‘power’ relations within a society, ultimately making it a place where women can lead. In Nepal, embedded structural and socio-cultural constraints challenge women entrepreneurs and make it hard for them to realize their dreams as business leaders.
Finding potential ways to empower women entrepreneurs and create leadership opportunities, can help in bringing women into the mainstream business sector in Nepal.
Here are some prominent women entrepreneurs from Nepal.
> Nikita Acharya, CEO & Co-founder, Urban Girl/ UG Cakes/ UG Bazaar
Nikita Acharya is the CEO and Co-founder of the e-commerce platform – Urban Girl/UG Cakes/UG Bazaar. When she started her business, she was just 19 years old! Along with her business partner, she started Urban Girl in 2012 that sells a range of jewellery and accessories for women. Gradually, they introduced UG Cakes that sell customized cakes. The business has grown and now, they sell many commodities through UG Bazaar.
> Anushka Shrestha, Founder, Makkuse
Anushka Shrestha, who was Miss Nepal 2019, came up with a local dessert brand ‘Makkuse’ in 2020 that reflects her roots. ‘Makkuse’, a word in Nepali language, roughly translates to something scrumptious in English. Significantly, this company makes and sells traditional Nepali sweets like – gundpak and pustakari. Her main objective is – to promote authentic Nepali flavours and tastes to the world culinary palette.
> Priya Sigdel, Co-founder & President, HattiHatti
Priya Sigdel is the Co-founder and President of HattiHatti Nepal, a non-profit organisation that recycles clothes or fabrics into beautiful garments and accessories. Her business started with the aim of empowering women from marginalised groups. Now, HattiHatti educates women, training them in subjects like English, Maths, Business Economy along with practical advanced tailoring training. Meanwhile, HattiHatti also inspires and teaches women to be creative entrepreneurs and independent persons.
> Prakriti Mainali -Shakti Milan
Prakriti Mainali started Shakti Milan Nepali in 2014. Her original vision was – to economically empower the women of marginalized and underprivileged groups, and at the same time, take stock of environmental sustainability too. She produces varieties of bags from sacks (that are often considered as waste in Nepali households). Shakti Milan employs around 20 disadvantaged and marginalized women and also pays them fairly. Interestingly, there is also a child-care centre in Shakti Milan, thus making the enterprise more women-friendly.
> Rewati Gurung, Founder, Kokroma
Rewati Gurung is the Founder of Kokroma, which produces and sells baby clothes, which are typically in the Nepali design format. She founded Kokroma in 2018, after being inspired by the idea of a Finnish baby box (a maternity care package that includes a cradle, clothes uniquely designed for new mothers and their babies after World War II) during her summer school days in Finland. Right from the beginning, the unique fact is that she has kept the idea of women empowerment at the centre. This Infant Clothing brand is dedicated to providing employment for marginalized women and is also involved in skill-training for prisoners.
> Sajal Pradhan, CEO & Co-founder, Best Paani
Sajal Pradhan is the CEO and Co-founder of a social enterprise Best Paani, that provides rainwater harvesting system, water filtration systems, wastewater recycling and groundwater recharge services to Nepali households. Founded in 2015, this start-up uses sustainable local technology and organic filtration materials to install environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable water systems. Best Paani also specializes in the research and development of these systems.
> Nisha Taujale KC, Co-founder, Kathmandu Organics
Nisha Taujale KC is the Co-founder of the online grocery store – Kathmandu Organics. She founded this start-up in 2017. Currently, this store which sells a range of local, organic, pesticide-free and home-made products. The items sold here, are mainly grocery items of Nepal, which are sourced by collaborating with farmers, cooperatives and entrepreneurs from 40 districts.