Ms. Darshana Shrestha (Nature Nepal)
Passion is an important trait of an entrepreneur, and that is what drove Darshana Shrestha to start her own skincare business, Nature Nepal. Darshana was always interested in plants and their healing properties, and with her degree in botany, it was natural for her to start her own skincare business. The brand was founded in 2006, and after a long hiatus, it was up and running again in 2015. She wanted to make a positive contribution to her community and employed destitute women, which is how her skincare business became a small social enterprise of its own. The products are hand made with special care, chemical-free, and use ingredients that are around her environment like aloe vera, rosemary, and neem to name a few.
Entrepreneurship is open to both men and women. However, being a woman entrepreneur is not the same because they have to balance their roles as a business owner and a homemaker. Darshana went through the same struggles as any other women entrepreneurs. She realized that the playing field for a man and a woman entrepreneur is different while doing business as the women are more bound to the social norms. Most women can only dedicate a certain amount of time to their businesses, whereas men can work beyond office hours to network with other industry people which ultimately help their businesses grow faster. This is one of the reasons why Darshana believes that a woman-led enterprise takes longer to grow. A family will always be the topmost priority for most women; therefore, they have to divide their time between work and home. As a businesswoman she knows how to balance her time for her family and her business as per the priority. Because of this she stands where she is now, as a proud women entrepreneur struggling with any crisis and accepting it as an opportunity.
Business during COVID-19 and Adapting to E-commerce
There are some challenges that women entrepreneurs face daily, but one thing that all entrepreneurs cannot escape today is the worldwide COVID 19 pandemic. This crisis not only brought about a new reality but triggered an unprecedented downturn of the economy. Like any other businesses, Nature Nepal too experienced its share of problems. Growth and development plans came to a complete halt, and Darshana knew that if she did not adapt and change her strategies, she would get left behind. She spent her lockdown days revising her business plans, and decided instead of targeting a niche markets, she wanted her products to be available to a larger audience. Coincidently, her products were selected to be promoted under the “MA-UDHYAMI” campaign as a part of the project “Revitalizing Women’s Businesses Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic”. The project is being implemented by Federation of Woman Entrepreneurs’ Associations of Nepal (FWEAN), together with Enterprise for Management, Economic Reform and Gender Equality (EMERGE) and Thulo.com, and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Her association with “MA-UDHYAMI” was a good strategy for Nature Nepal because the lockdown was forcing consumers to rely on online shopping, which meant that now; more people have access to her products. She also no longer had to rely on intermediaries, and was able to sell directly to customers, using an online platform allowing her to enjoy cost-saving benefits. This demonstrates that a crisis can offer opportunities depending on how you choose to respond to it.
Darshana asserts that even if one does not know how to navigate their way to e-commerce success, they should not be afraid to learn and upgrade their skills to become better at managing their business in this era.
Something to learn from Darshana
The COVID19 pandemic is just one of the many crises that entrepreneurs might face throughout their entrepreneurial journey Darshana hopes that in times of crisis and challenges, entrepreneurs do not lose hope and become demotivated. They should continue to work hard and have the determination to succeed. She believes that with every crisis and problem there lies an opportunity to which we should be able to tap and walk ahead. She also advises young aspiring women entrepreneurs to always be on the lookout for opportunities and grab it when the moment presents itself. “Perhaps the most important criteria for survival in today’s business environment is innovation. Entrepreneurs have access to so much information and knowledge these days that they should be able to come up with creative and innovative solutions. They should pave the way for other entrepreneurs instead of following the path created by others”. She hopes to see more women entrepreneurs in Nepal.
View all products of Nature Nepal: https://thulo.com/nature-nepal/
Story Covered by: Ms. Jaani Kandangwa
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