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Press Release: Wrapping up MA-Udhyami Campaign: What our women entrepreneurs’ have to say?


Federation of Woman Entrepreneurs’ Associations of Nepal (FWEAN), together with EMERGE (Enterprise for Management, Economic Reform and Gender Equality) and Thulo.com launched “MA-Udhyami” campaign as a part of the project “Revitalizing Women’s Businesses Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic”. The project is supported by USAID’s Tayar Nepal.

The pilot project is coming to close on 30 September 2020. In the four month project, we connected 17 women entrepreneurs, mostly from marginalized groups, running micro and small scale production businesses, of Kathmandu and Lalitpur area, comprising both members and non-members of FWEAN to digital economy. These businesses had not been connected or made robust sales through other digital platforms, with products that meet the criteria as set by the project in terms of product quality, labeling and packaging, had been on board. The products selected were essential food items - pickles, spices, honey, safety and hygiene products - eco sanitary pad, masks, body oil, sanitizers, etc. MA-Udhyami Campaign was launched for product promotions, running contests and media promotions with the aim to improve the performance of the selected women’s businesses.

 

Ms. Sharmila Lama from Sharupa Digo Hastakala is thrilled at the response she has received because despite the lockdown she has been active in fulfilling the online orders of her products. The nationwide lockdown that lasted months meant that Sharmila had to rely on online sales to keep up her business. In addition to partaking in such a campaign, Sharmila hopes to attend more online entrepreneurship related training in order to keep up with the trends of e-commerce. According to Basu Maya Tamang from Nepali Mann Udhyog, she has been relying on online sales to sustain her business, and employees at Nepali Man Udhyog are engaged in fulfilling the online orders. She adds, the internet now remains a lifeline for her business, helping to stay afloat during this trying time. 

 

According to Utpala Tuladhar from Sur Chemicals, during the lockdown, with an increase in demand for these cleaning products, Utpala was busy ramping up production to meet this unexpected demand. Coincidently, her products were selected to be promoted under the MA-Udhyami campaign. For Sitara Rajbhandari from Spicy Home Spices, as she 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 also had ample experience working with online e-commerce platforms. She witnessed a surge in her sales through the campaign. Malika Shrestha, owner at Craft Palace, 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. According to Ms. Devaka Shrestha from Champak Paun, this campaign is a great initiative for women like her who have inadequate knowledge and access to technology to increase customer reach.

Rekha Sharma Chaudhary from RIK Food Udhyog feels lucky to have been selected as one of the sellers at MA-Udhyami campaign and says 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. With similar thoughts, Mahalaxmi Shrestha from The BeeKeeping Shop believes that businesses should now move forward with a strategy that is focused more on selling online. She feels blessed to have been selected as one of the women entrepreneurs for the online promotion of her products under the MA-Udhyami campaign.

According to Sarita Shrestha from Mountain Bee Concern, the COVID-19 outbreak is obligating consumers to boost their immunity. Sarita says that the demand for their honey has increased even more during this virus outbreak. She feels lucky to be one of the women entrepreneurs selected for the online promotion of her products under the campaign. Arati Nepal from Mahi Enterprises states that to address the current situation, Arati wanted to utilize the online platform and, coincidently, she was selected for the online promotion of her products under the campaign. She further states that this crisis has shown that customers are going to pivot towards online shopping even more after this.

 

Darshana Shrestha from Nature Nepal says that she no longer has to rely on intermediaries, and was able to sell directly to customers, using an online platform allowing her to enjoy cost-saving benefits. As per Pratima Thapa Karki from Free Wheel, the response she received after being part of MA-Udhyami campaign has been incredibly positive. Her products are now available to a larger customer base, and she says she is delighted with the outcome. Having an online presence allowed her to increase her customer base easily as well as reduce the cost of marketing. With that, she was also able to analyze and understand how well her products were doing in the market. She hopes that more women entrepreneurs will put up their businesses online, because in today’s context, with everyone relying on e-commerce, going online is indeed the best approach.

 

According to Anuza Rajbhandary from Ekadesma, the pandemic has shown that e-commerce is only going to grow, and she advises other entrepreneurs to have an online presence. She says that one no longer has to start a business by having a physical store, and instead, one should focus on having a virtual store first which is much more effective and affordable. Business owners must be updated about customer demands and keep up with the changing technological trends. As per Bimala Sunuwar from White Lotus, they already have an online presence, but to create more awareness about their brand among consumers, they wanted to have a wider market reach. Luckily, White Lotus happened to be one of the companies selected for the online promotion of their products under the campaign. The nationwide lockdown that lasted months meant that Sahanshila Nyachhon from Saluna Creation had to rely on online sales to keep up her business. As per Kalawati Rai from Navaras, they had to start moving their business activities online and hardly had the time to get oriented to the changes that were happening. Similarly, Jyoti Thapa from Swaad Achar Udhyog is completely aware of the importance of having an online presence and feels lucky to have been one of the women entrepreneurs selected for the online promotion of her products under the campaign. 

Hearing the reviews from our women entrepreneurs, we can say that that the need of digitalization of businesses have been deeply felt and transition to digital economy is in flow.