Nagaland boasts of immense natural resources and cultural heritage that create unique opportunities for its products and services. The state has immense potential in specific sectors such as – organic agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, handloom and handicrafts where women entrepreneurs can be involved. In fact, women entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon in the state. Women have always been held in high esteem and played an important role in the economy.
And rightly so, Nagaland has been witnessing significant growth in entrepreneurship in recent years.
Here are some women entrepreneurs from the state of Nagaland.
> Zakietsono Jamir, Founder, Farmer Square Cafe
Zakietsono Jamir is the founder and owner of Farmer Square Cafe in Medziphima, Dimapur district, rural Nagaland. The café offers freshly ground coffee to customers, and they also provide a variety of mixes and other locally produced food items, such as – pickles, sauces, mushrooms, canned pineapples etc.
After discovering the art of making coffee from beans, she worked on the idea and added elements to spice up the flavour of coffee to make it fascinating. Then a business idea flashed, and she also went on to study speciality coffee further.
Through her business, she not only provided jobs for young women from communities around the area, but also gave them a reliable source of income. Besides, she has also been given the honour of starting a “quality coffee culture” movement in and around Medziphima. What’s more – she has earned the nickname “Coffee Lady of Nagaland.”
> Karen Yepthomi, Founder, Dzukou Tribal Kitchen
Naga chef and restauranteur Karen Yepthomi’s traditional cuisine creates waves at food festivals. Its speciality is the flavor of authentic Naga cuisine. Visitors relish the unique taste as they lounge against the creative interiors – bamboo furniture, lanterns, tribal paintings with a lemon fragrance in the air. In spite of the impact of COVID, her business has been moving ahead, catering to the customers.
She was awarded the 13th National Women Excellence Award 2020 during a ceremony organized by the Indo-European Chamber of Small & Medium Enterprises (IECSME) in Delhi
> Jesmina Zeliang, Founder, Heirloomnaga
After she launched her first collection in the early nineties, Jesmina Zeliang, Founder, Heirloomnaga has been revamping the Naga textile industry. By combining traditional motifs with a contemporary tint, she is a pioneer in reviving ancestral skills and defining a new approach for indigenous craft.
She is involved in many other projects too – for she is the founder/proprietor of Cane Concepts, and the founding partner of Konyak, a North-East speciailty store in Guwahati and Dibrugarh (Assam). She is also the founding partner of Razhü Pru, a heritage hotel in Kohima, Nagaland. And as a member of Committee of Administration of Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), she was elected as the first woman president to preside over the Indian Handicrafts and Gift Fair in 2018. She has led delegations representing the North-East Region and India to a global audience too; and she was selected by the US Government to represent India under the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2013 for “Economic Integration Through Women’s Empowerment.
Since the early 90s, she has given a huge boost to exports of cane and bamboo and artisanal handcrafted textiles from the North-East region. Most important, she is actively engaged in empowering women from marginal communities and tribes in North-East India.
> Temsusenla Kichu, Founder, Fusion Store
Hailing from Dimapur in Nagaland, she currently runs – ‘Fusion store’, which houses an eclectic range of homegrown brands – that is, various original creations from home-grown designers and creators. Involved in other social activities, she is an active part of the Rotary Club in Dimapur. She had joined the club in 1997 when she was still in school, and went on to represent the entire North Eastern states too, and has served as the president as well. Significantly, she has also volunteered as the co-ordinator for Ne8X chapter, which aims to assist and empower entrepreneurs and start-ups from the Northeast region of India.
> Alem Ozukum, Founder, Indie Fashion Label
Alem Ozukum from Kohima, Nagaland always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and confessed that she never imagined working for the government nor in an office. She always aspired to create a small empire of her own!
Today, fashion is such an important part of her life. She works on her label Alem Ozukum out of her home studio; and they make easy ready-to-wear outfits, bridal wear and garments on order. What sets her apart from most other designers is that she makes the entire experience a
‘personal’ one for her clients.
She confides that if she wasn’t working professionally as a fashion designer, she would probably be teaching or instructing in one of the fashion schools.
> Rose, Founder, ‘Griege Rose Chocolates’
Rose from Nagaland quit her job as an air hostess during the COVID pandemic in 2020, to start her own business. During the downtime, she launched her own chocolate brand; and in fact, her homemade chocolate brand ‘Greige Rose Chocolates has been creating headlines in Nagaland.
The uniqueness of ‘Greige Rose Chocolates‘ is that it is known for using perfectly tempered chocolates – to create the most creative and imaginative designs.
> Sony Jemu, Founder, ‘Moi Bake’
Sony Jemu, the name behind ‘Moi Bake’ had interestingly picked up this baking hobby at a time when she was unemployed, after completing her Masters. ‘Moi Bake’ is a home-based venture in Nagaland that delights local customers with custom-made cakes and other baked
goodies. After her masters, she was unemployed and would stay at home, watching television shows and what was special was that she was glued to the baking shows! That actually led her to start out on her own.
So, what started as a leisure activity, has grown to an admirable venture, that delights and inspires many around her. It is significant that it brings her much solace and happiness, as an entrepreneur!