No more weapons, now its scissors for cutting hair..

Phulmati in her beauty parlour
Phulmati in her beauty parlour. PHOTO: UNDP Nepal

Phulmati’s beauty parlour business is flourishing in Bardiya, mid-west Nepal. Her earning per day ranges from Rs. 500 to Rs. 4,000. "We cannot predict fixed income from this business, it depends on many factors such as festivals and wedding seasons but my customers are very happy with me as my saloon provides a variety of beauty services,” she says.

A former Maoist combatant, Phulmati Chaudhary, 25, was discharged from the Surkhet cantonment in early 2010. She chose the micro-enterprise option under the training programme provided by the UN Interagency Rehabilitation Programme (UNIRP).   With the start up support that she received from UNIRP at the end of the 3-6 months long training, and the monetary support received from her family, she opened up a beauty parlour.

Highlights

  • By June 2012, UNIRP has provided 2,149 VMLRs with support for rehabilitation.
  • Approximately 60 percent of the graduates have been offered work or are running their own business with the support of UNIRP.

"The start-up support in kind equivalent to Rs. 30,000 received from UNIRP was very helpful to start the business. However, that was not sufficient. My family also helped me with a loan of Rs. 60,000 during the initial phase of the business,” she shared. Her family’s financial support shows that she readily got social acceptance from the society which has been a challenge for many other combatants.

She recalls how she spent her childhood in a dusty squatter settlement. When she reached her teens, she joined the Maoist army.  ‘Bindu’, the alias that she got in the army became her identity. Now she has been able to give a new identity to herself with the new found business. Up till June 2012, UNIRP provided rehabilitation support to 2,149 VMLRs. Among them, 67 VMLRs enrolled in the beauty parlour training option while 42 have already completed the training.

Despite the fact that there are ten other beauty parlours in the market, she has emerged as a successful entrepreneur. As a result of her business performance, UNIRP has further provided her with a second round of in-kind capital support equivalent to Rs. 20,000.

In the process that unfolded after the ten year long armed conflict in Nepal, a total of 4,008 verified minors and late recruits (VMLRs) were identified as ineligible to remain in cantonments as members of the Maoist army. After the discharge of the VMLRs, the Government of Nepal requested the UN to facilitate their rehabilitation into civilian life.

From mid-2010, UNIRP has been supporting the rehabilitation process to support the transition of the discharged VMLRs from military to civilian life by providing them with training and education. This new opportunity has enabled them to access good employment and livelihood opportunities.