As a kid growing up in a Nepali household, we all have fond memories of helping our mothers
and grandmothers stuff all sorts of vegetables and fruits in a sterilized jar and filling it to the
brim. Achar (pickle) is a quintessential part of our culture and the techniques for making achar
can differ vastly. It is the perfect condiment with rice and is a staple in our diet. A dollop of this
sweet, sour, and spicy achar can vivify even the most basic meal. Pickling or making a jar achar
can be time-consuming and nowadays, most women prefer to buy them. One such brand that is
available is RIK food achar owned by Rekha Sharma Chaudhary. Although it has only been 2
years since she started her business, she has more than 13 years of experience running a business.
She used to run her own mithai business. After 13 years, Rekha sold her shop to learn something
new. She took training to make achars and decided to apply what she learned by starting her own
achar business, as well as provide training to other enthusiastic women. Today, she has
customers from different parts of the world.
One of the most common struggles that every woman entrepreneur faces is lack of financing.
People take out loans and have to bear the burden of paying timely interest which can be
challenging. However, Rekha says that difficulties are not always about money. One of the major
challenges she faced had nothing to do with finance. As time went on, Rekha realized that it was
very hard to convince Nepali consumers that Nepali made products are on a par, if not better than
other international brands. She noticed that Nepali consumers have a tendency to prefer non-
Nepali brands, and this is when Rekha decided to switch her strategy and focus more on serving
Nepalese living abroad. The news about her business spread through word of mouth, thanks to
her friends and families, and she managed to increase non-residential Nepali customers that were
residing abroad. She also started promoting through Facebook and now the majority of her
customers are from Australia.
Small to mid-sized businesses like Rekha’s achar business is a catalyst for economic growth and
employment, making it essential for them to work out a way to move forward from this
coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has forced businesses to revise their strategies and
capabilities, and concentrate more on building their online presence, abandoning the need for
traditional brick and mortar models that were once the agenda for their business. Rekha knew
staying idle was not an option as her livelihood depended on her achar business. She had to try
and continue selling her achars despite the lockdown compelling all businesses to halt their
operation. She had a lot of orders from her overseas customers, but they all had to be put on hold
due to the lockdown.
In the meantime, she wanted to increase her Nepali customer base and, luckily, she is 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 Thulo.com, and is
funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The pandemic has furthered fueled the growing e-commerce industry and Rekha hopes that
entrepreneurs have better understood the importance of selling online. Entrepreneurs that wish to
start their business post COVID-19 should focus on taking their business online.
If there are any lessons that Rekha wishes to impart from her journey as an entrepreneur is that
aspiring entrepreneurs should have the zest for learning, and the ability to remain curious, and
have a sound understanding of managing business finances. Firstly, today’s entrepreneurs need
to understand the multifaceted dynamics of the current market to survive and succeed. ‘Our
business environment is very different today than when I first started years ago. Entrepreneurs
now have more growth opportunities despite the multi-fold risks they have to address. From
understanding the trends of consumers to the use of digitization, I have tried to learn it all to
evolve and remain relevant. If I did not have a positive attitude towards learning, I might not
have come this far which is why I believe entrepreneurs should constantly work on improving
their knowledge and skills”. Secondly, she would like to advise entrepreneurs to be smart about
managing their finances. Small businesses do not have luxuries like big enterprises, and therefore
have to keep a stringent check on their expenses.
View all products of RIK Food Udhyog: https://thulo.com/rik-food-udhyog/
Story Covered by: Ms. Jaani Kandangwa
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