Sita Pyakural, 41, a resident of Bidur Municipality ward -10 of Nuwakot district, owns one of the largest block enterprises in the district. It is hard to imagine that it was just one of the few insignificant businesses that Sita was juggling with just over a year ago.
Sita was running a grocery shop, a small poultry, and a block enterprise informally at small scale. While the businesses would keep her fully occupied, the income was not enough to meet her ends.
Over a year ago, Sita got an opportunity to participate in the business incubation programme organized by Purnima programme. The programme was an eye opener for her. She learnt about basics of running business like business plan, cost benefit analysis and marketing strategy from the programme. More importantly, it helped her to figure out what she has been doing wrong thus far.
“In desperation, I was putting my legs on several boats. Hence, I wasn’t been able to do justice to any business. And the informal nature of the business was also limiting the growth,” said Sita.
After participating in business incubation programme, she focused on the block enterprise only. As post-earthquake reconstruction was in full swing, it was the most promising business for her. She formally registered the enterprise and named it after her native deity “Subhagath Sundaradevi” with the hope that it will bring good luck to her busines. And, it indeed brought prosperity.
The business plan which she prepared during the incubation programe helped her to land a loan of 18 lakhs Nepali Rupees from Jyoti Bikas Bank. With the loan, she added new machines for producing Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB), drainage blocks and tile blocks. She also purchased a vehicle which helped her in transporting the raw materials and delivering the finished products. By the end of the year, she generated 12 lakhs net income.
She was employing 20 people and was very happy with the newfound success. However, the first wave of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown and travel restrictions brought her business down like it did to many other businesses in the country. Production was completely stopped, and the supply chain was disrupted for four months. She was also forced to lay off her staffs. Mounting interest on her loan compounded her owes. As she was beginning to lose hopes for revising the business, Purnima programe came to her rescue once again.
Programme organized a Covid-19 safety awareness and psychosocial and business counselling sessions for entrepreneurs like Sita. The sessions were very effective in providing entrepreneurs with tips on keeping their businesses afloat during the crisis and operating them safely.
“Psychosocial counseling really helped me to regain my confidence and I learnt various tools for business continuity in the crisis from the business counseling session. I found the idea of contingency plan for the crisis very helpful “said Sita.
As the lockdown eased down, she was able to restart her enterprise again. The knowledge and tools she gained from the counselling sessions came handy for restarting the business as the first wave of Covid-19 subsided. She was also benefited from the project supported help desk at Chamber of commerce and Industry (CCI) at Nuwakot which helped her in renewing her loan and clear taxes when the mobility was still restricted.
Sita is a good example of how a small help can go long way for entrepreneurs to rise to the challenge.
Text: Rabindra Singh, Purusottam Gupta and Sofila Vaidya