Ms. Devaka Shrestha (Champak Paun)
If you are from Nepal, you already know what a paun, also known as titaura is. For the rest of
you who do not know, it is a candy that is made from lapsi (hog plum fruit) native to Nepal and a
few other Asian countries, and comes in a wide array of flavors- sweet, savory, sour, spicy, or a
combination of everything. Nowadays, with the demand for a variety, Nepali entrepreneurs make
these candies with mango, lemon, and dates. One such paun entrepreneur in Nepal is Devaka
Shrestha, who has been running her paun business for nearly 10 years now. She has been making
these lapsi candies for almost 20 years now, but when she realized that most of these lapsi went
to waste because of low demand and high supply in her home town, she knew she had to do
something about it. She decided to enroll in a training to turn the tradition of making lapsi into a
commercially viable venture by learning the craft of making paun.
After her training, Devaka also conducted training for the women in her community who were
interested in starting their own paun business. She wanted to empower women by teaching them
skills and giving them employment. She admits that as a homemaker, running her own business
and conducting training sessions has been onerous for her to balance everything.
“I am not going to pretend and say that it is a child's play because it is not, but at the same time it
is not impossible to do it all. As a woman, you can never abandon your responsibilities towards
your family which is why having a support system makes the journey manageable. Most
homemakers are free in the afternoon, and this is the time that they should be making use of. One
can start small or start with close friends and relatives if they find conducting business alone
burdensome. They are so many ways to navigate through this difficulty that I genuinely believe
that women can do it all”.
For Devaka learning to balance everything was just one of the obstacles, knowing how to run a
business was an entirely different matter. When she first started, she was not equipped with the
necessary knowledge, and all she envisioned was giving employment opportunities to the women
in need. She started developing a deep sense of educating herself to reach greater heights in
business and as time went on, she learned about maintaining quality and hygiene standards.
From frequent visits to other Paun factories in the beginning to learn how to handle everything from
production to marketing, I was not satisfied with the overall hygiene management there. So, I wanted
to make production process and storage more hygienic and qualitative in my factory and I am still
trying my best to supply more hygienic and quality Paun to the market so that its healthier for the
consumers. She learned about the legal requirements of running a business such as registering
and paying taxes. She learned to study the market and how it operated. She also understood
what competition was and how one needs to compete in a market.
Business during COVID-19 and Adapting to E-commerce
The COVID 19 pandemic has forced consumers to shop online, which is causing a shift in their
behavior. Small businesses in Nepal are preparing to respond to this by revising their digital
promotion and selling strategies. This elucidates that e-commerce is an important tool and
solution for both businesses and consumers, especially in a post-COVID 19 era. This pandemic
was a wake-up call for digital novice entrepreneurs like Devaka as they could no longer avoid
digitizing their business despite the difficulties and complications. Many business owners who
grew up without technology found it difficult to grasp its concepts and adapt to e-commerce.
Devaka had to rely on her tech-savvy children to help her devise online strategies for her
She was also selected to be part of “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, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID). This is a great initiative for women like Devaka who have inadequate knowledge and
access to technology to increase customer reach.
Something to learn from Devaka
Devaka understands that the world of business can present different challenges to women, and
having overcome these herself, she has a few advice for those who have their heart set on
becoming an entrepreneur. For Devaka, entrepreneurship takes patience. Many new businesses
operate in the red and are bootstrapping which is why entrepreneurs feel the urgency to see the
return on investment. One should focus on their goals instead of focusing solely on earning
profit. A business does not take off immediately and requires perseverance. The results are not
immediate, therefore one needs to stay motivated and continue working. Some businesses can
take off really fast, and this can mislead you to believe that this is the way it should be. The truth
though, is that the slow and steady always win.
View all products of Champak Pauan: https://thulo.com/champak
Story Covered by: Ms. Jaani Kandangwa
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