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Ms. Malika Shrestha (Craft Palace)

Thulo .Com
Sep 3, 2020

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that they were destined to start a business. They feel that it is
their life calling, and it takes years of learning and planning to set up a business. But for some,
entrepreneurship happens by force of nature. Malika Shrestha, who has been running Craft
Palace for almost 30 years, started without intentions of becoming an entrepreneur. As a fulltime
homemaker, she wanted to do more than just tending to household affairs and maintaining the
upkeep of her home. She wanted to do something fullfilling and decided to attend training
sessions conducted by WEAN (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal) for sewing out of
interest. After her training, she got an opportunity to exhibit her products at a project conducted
by the UN. Her products caught the attention of an American buyer, and before she knew it, she
was busy preparing to meet the orders. This was her first taste at entrepreneurship. She realized
that this was what she wanted to do, and that is how she embarked on her decades-long
entrepreneurial journey.

Malika had neither the education nor prior experience in entrepreneurship. She realized that
picking up skills was just a small part of her goal for self-sustenance. She had to learn about all
aspects of running a business from managing finances, devising marketing strategies to
maintaining the quality of her products, and upgrading her selling skills and abilities. As a
member of WEAN, she was able to find the mentorship she needed to run a business. It was no
easy feat, but with time and experience, she was able to grasp the realities of businesses and
common mistakes she needed to avoid. In her initial days she started with making dresses and
waistcoats, but now she has expanded her product line to include a variety including handicrafts
made from natural fibers such as hemp and nettle. She introduces products according to market
demands and trends which is a necessity for business survival.

Business during COVID-19 and Adapting to E-commerce

Malika frequently flies to America for businesses. On her first visit, she saw that many
businesses were already incorporating technology to conduct business, and this made her
question the possibilities of technology. On her second visit, she realized that most department
stores had closed down and gone online completely, and consumers were shopping online. This
was before the current COVID-19 pandemic. So when the lockdown restrictions in Nepal
increased consumers’ online shopping frequency and changed their shopping habits significantly,
it was not the first time Malika had witnessed such a phenomenon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been s an eye-opener for many business owners in Nepal who
have relied heavily on the brick and mortar model. Many businesses that did not have an online
business presence were in a state of frenzy. All the plans that Malika had for the coming months
were put on hold, and she needed to revise her business strategies for now to accommodate the
changes that the lockdown brought about. Malika who has had little knowledge of technology
and its application, found it complex to switch her business model from offline to online. She
could now no longer avoid transitioning from offline to online business. She knew that despite
the lack of experience and knowledge, she had to adapt, and instead of panicking she took this as
a learning opportunity. As the current President of WEAN Cooperative, she has been attending
online meetings regularly through Zoom, and her experience with Zoom was a stepping stone
towards embracing technology. Currently, she has plans to hire IT personnel for her business.
Malika is also one of the women entrepreneurs selected for the online promotion of her products
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 EMERGE and, and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Something to learn from Malika

Whether you are thinking of starting your own business, need some inspiration, or need help
navigating the rough, uncertain waters of entrepreneurship, Malika has a few hard-won pieces of
advice to give.
“Women live in different times today. They are not expected to be a full-time homemaker like in
the old days and have the choice to do something for themselves. Having said that you should
understand that entrepreneurship is more than just a money game. For an entrepreneur, money is
important, but you are not going to earn it just because you desire it. Money comes in when you

do something well, and to do that you should focus on learning skills and developing yourself.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, you should learn from people who are more
successful than you. You should ask them about their path to success and pick up useful pointers.
A successful entrepreneur never stops learning.”

View all products of Craft Palace:

Story Covered by: Ms. Jaani Kandangwa


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