Nepal Knotcraft Center, which began with three women producing macramé goods, is now a large company that employs hundreds of women. And it was all possible because of the efforts and determination of one person: Shyam Badan Shrestha.
Shrestha, the owner of Nepal Knotcraft Centre, is also the founder member of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (WEAN) and above all an entrepreneur who has employed and helped uplift the living standards of many underprivileged and economically deprived women. Today, through Nepal Knotcraft Center, which is her brainchild, she is helping women every single day.
A pioneering manufacturer, Nepal Knotcraft Center produces handcrafted items that can be used either at homes or offices. Their major workers are the women of various ethnicities who are known for their traditional weaving skills. Being inspired from Nepal’s rich natural and cultural beauty, all of their goods are made from locally available raw materials as natural fibers, macramé, and recycled wood. Some of their major products are lampshades, floor mats, baskets, accessories, artifacts, and many more. However, one of the main motives behind the initiation of the company was to bridge the gap between work-rank fluctuations in Nepal.
“To be honest, Nepal lacks proper performance evaluation of labor. Most of the times, regardless of how hard they work, honest and dedicated staffs don’t progress whereas those with ‘connections’ keep getting promoted,” says Shresth adding that in her organization, despite the fact that the posts are divided, for her every employee is treated equal and given the same importance.
In 1987, when she initially started the company, the knot business was very new in Nepal. This made her exhibitions a major site of attraction for many people. Thus, the products became popular in no time. The concept of fusing traditional skills with modern technologies was highly praised and supported by the public as well. This encouraged her to work hard and try to do better with each day. Continuously enhancing the quality of the products and expanding the production volume, today her products are exported to USA, Japan, Germany, and Denmark.
However, she confesses that the challenges are aplenty. Find good manpower has become really hard, she says. “Weaving isn’t an easy task. It demands perfection, patience, and time. Due to this, it is sometimes difficult to complete the orders on time. And hiring non-skilled workers is never an alternative,” she shares. Other than that, political instability also hits them hard when they have to export goods to the international market.
But she also mentions that she has enough experience now to tackle the numerous challenges head on. For those keen to start their own business, Shrestha recommends that one must always aim high but begin with a small startup business.
“Businesses with a low overhead cost have low risk of failing. Gradually, you will also learn more about the market which will help you decide whether to continue or to shift to something else,” she says adding that you should also try to use locally available raw material to reduce your capital investment. “This way you’ll not only be doing yourself a good financial favor but will also be helping the nation prosper in the long run,” she concludes.