Ms. Sitara Rajbhandari (Spicy Home Spices)

Sep 7, 2020
by Thulo .Com

As a mother whose children had grown up and, Sitara suddenly found herself with a lot of leisure
time on her hand. Therefore it was no brainer for her when she saw an advertisement for small
business promotion training that she would enroll herself. At that time, she had no plans to
become an entrepreneur, and her main reason for attending the training was to kill time. It was
after the training sessions that Sitara realized she wanted to apply what she learned by starting a
business venture of her own. After giving it some thought, she decided to start a sweater business
because she was always interested in knitting. Her sweater business lasted for 10 years, and at 51
years old, she realized she could no longer continue to knit sweaters because of her deteriorating
health conditions. Sitara decided it was time to move on and start something new, and that is
how she got into the spice business.

Nepali meals are characterized by the heavy use of variety of spices. They are used in various
recipes and every household in Nepal relies on masalas. Sitara realized that the market was big
enough and also there was a huge demand for high-quality masala and spices in the market. At
that time, the masala and spices available in the market were inexpensive but of low quality, and
Sitara wanted to produce masala and spices that were organic and free of chemicals. She
marketed her spices through WEAN cooperative. It is never easy starting a new and small
business where one has to compete with other multi-million rupee companies. Sitara finally had
her breakthrough when she met a buyer from Japan. The buyer was interested in buying the
spices, but there were a few packaging adjustments she wanted before placing an order. The
packaging was changed according to the buyer's demands, and after it was approved, the first
batch of orders was packed and ready to be exported to Japan. Sitara has not looked back ever
since.

Business during COVID-19 and Adapting to E-commerce

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has presented considerable challenges to businesses that no-one
prepared for or expected in the beginning of this year. It forced them to look for innovative
solutions to continue operating and fighting for survival within a matter of weeks. Not all

companies were affected the same way and those who did have digital experience were better
positioned to respond to customers shifting massively to buying online. Sitara already had an
online presence built for her spice brands which made it relatively easy for her to transition from
physical to digital commerce. She has ample experience working with online e-commerce
platforms. Although she is not adept in all things related to digital commerce, her children have
certainly helped her. Her products were also 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).

Something to learn from Sitara

At the age of 71 with years of experience as a business owner, Sitara does have wisdom to
impart to aspiring entrepreneurs. “Everyone should start a business that they are passionate
about. Aspiring women entrepreneurs need to tap into what they are good at and what makes
them feel great. Women no longer need to go into a specific field. They can choose what they are
passionate about because that is way more important. Also running a business can be
challenging, and many will face struggles, especially when you are first starting. It takes time to
build a successful business. In today’s world, it seems as though everything happens fast. But
when you are building your new business, patience is a valuable tool that can help you
accomplish goals and achieve more than you ever dreamed. It might take longer but it is worth
it.”

View all products of Spicy Home Spices: https://thulo.com/shs/

Story Covered by: Ms. Jaani Kandangwa

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