Ms. Hajuri Bista (Kitchen Recipe)
Hajuri Bista was 39 years old when she first started her pickle business back in the early 1990s. She was a homemaker who suddenly found herself with free time in her hands after her children began attending school. She did not want to stay idle and spent 6 months going through pages of newspaper advertisements until she found skill development training programs conducted by the WEAN Multipurpose Cooperative (WEAN). WEAN was hosting a food preservation workshop, and Hajuri decided to give it a try. The objective of the training was to not only teach students how to preserve homemade food but also promote female entrepreneurship. After the training, Hajuri conducted a market research that revealed that the pickle market was full of Indian brands, and there was no Nepali pickle brand.
Hajuri along, with Keshar who was also in the training program, started producing a variety of pickles using garlic, ginger, fish, and meat with the assurance that WEAN would market them. They spent the next three years pickling different concoctions and getting feedback before they finally found the recipes they wanted to commercialize. She attended business fairs and exhibitions and began introducing her products to the market. Slowly, her pickle brand gained recognition and became popular in Nepal. Today most department stores and supermarkets across the valley shelve Hajuri’s pickle varieties like lapsi chutney and lapsi titaura (a popular dried fruit sweet), fish and buff pickles, sweet mango chutney, hot lemon pickle, whole garlic pickle, chili sauce, chili pickles, and radish and gundruk pickles (gundruk is a popular fermented dried vegetable).
Business during COVID-19 and Adapting to E-commerce
With almost 26 of experience, the COVID 19 outbreak served as a reminder for Hajuri that unforeseen catastrophes have happened and will continue to happen. Businesses around the world have been forced to close down leading to a disruption in commerce, bringing unparalleled shock to the economy. They are facing many short-term challenges, such as those related to cash-flow, health and safety, consumer demand, sales, and marketing. Hajuri too felt all these impacts of COVID-19.
“It took me a while to process what was happening because the coronavirus outbreak was something that I had never experienced before, but after some planning and discussion with my team, we resumed our operations by focusing heavily on online sales. I was responsible for my employees who had been with me for more than 20 years. I could not afford to stay idle during the lockdown as these people relied on me for sustenance. We made our pickle products and began selling it on many.”
Hajuri 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).
Something to learn from Hajuri
Hajuri, who started her business in her late 30s believes that entrepreneurship is not just for the young. She quickly learned all aspects of running a business from pickle-production to marketing and sales, leading to her brand to become successful in the market. She believes that having the necessary knowledge is an essential requirement for starting any venture. Hajuri was always interested in making pickles, but to make it commercially viable, she attended training with WEAN. Nowadays, there are so many ways one can get knowledge and become educated about entrepreneurship. Secondly, Hajuri stresses the importance of being honest and earning the trust of the consumers. Entrepreneurs who are working to create a brand should be able to generate a belief that has a lasting value on the consumers. Lastly, she believes an entrepreneur should have perseverance. Entrepreneurship is a long and arduous road, and success takes time. One should not give up and continue working hard. Hajuri stands by these beliefs and applies it herself as well. She also adds that it is important to engage younger generation into business, while her business is currently getting support from her younger family members Mr. Pawan Bista, Ms. Hima Bista and Mr. Kratu Raj Pandey. She believes younger generation has the ability to be more innovative and to sustain the business even during crisis like the one we are facing.
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