Dhaka enterprise brings fortunes for Subhadra……...

Subhadra Rajbhandari with her Dhaka product
Subhadra Rajbhandari with her Dhaka product. Photo: UNDP Nepal

A decade long struggle has finally brought good days for Subhadra Rajbhandari, an entrepreneur residing in Myanglung, Tehrathum district in east Nepal.

She owns a shop which has products worth Rs. 400,000 (US$ 5,479) made out of dhaka fabric such as caps, scarves, saris, shawls, neckties, handkerchiefs, blouses, shirts etc. She also has colourful threads in different sizes used for weaving dhaka materials. 

Highlights

  • Since it began, MEDEP has developed over 32,000 micro-entrepreneurs (68% women, 20% Dalits and 67% youth) and created about 37,000 sustainable jobs.
  • The success of MEDEP has let the government to allocate substantial funding to the local government bodies ($3 million in fiscal year 2010/11) to implement the MEDEP model in 45 districts under its new Micro-enterprise Development for Poverty Alleviation Scheme. The government plans to replicate the MEDEP model in all 75 districts of Nepal in five years time.

In 2001, the UNDP Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) provided 7-day training in weaving dhaka products and also supported Subhadra to start her own enterprise and open an outlet to sell her products. Under the category of those belonging to the poorest group, MEDEP helped Subhadra to secure Rs. 20,000 (US$ 274) loan along with basic equipment.

Within a year of beginning dhaka enterprise she was able to earn her living, but in 2002 a fire in the shop destroyed all her goods. It took her 4 more years to pick up the enterprise.

In 2005 again she started weaving dhaka cloths. MEDEP facilitated her to borrow Rs 15,000 on group collateral from the Agricultural Development Bank. She gradually increased the size of the business and now employs 8 poor local indigenous women who earn about Rs. 5,000 per month on an average basis. Subhadra buys the raw materials mostly from Dharan and Biratnagar, the two major market centres to the south of Myanglung. Dhaka fabric and products have strong domestic demand. Most of the producers have their own shops. 

In Myanglung, the producers sell dhaka products locally and in the adjoining districts. Encouraged by her success, an increasing number of people are involved in dhaka business in the district. There are 6 factories and more than 300 micro-entrepreneurs in Myanglung who produce dhaka products.

Subhadra and her husband both train people in dhaka weaving which brings home around Rs. 75,000 additional every year. However due to the rise in sales, Subhadra is not able to give time to trainings any more. There is a rise in dhaka export with new items such as curtains, wall hangings, cushion covers, table linens, bed linens, bags and other accessories. Several fair trade organisations are already exporting such items overseas.

Subhadra participates in the local, regional and national trade fairs, and occupies important position in the community today. Her two children are studying in private school and they live a more comfortable life compared to 10 years ago.  She owns a small piece of land worth Rs. 500,000 (US$ 6849). People are ready to lend her bigger amount of money.

Established in July 1998 as a flagship enterprise promotion programme of the Government of Nepal and UNDP, MEDEP is a multi-lateral donor-funded poverty reduction initiative in the 30 districts of Nepal.

The overarching goal of MEDEP is to translate the broader vision of the Government reflected in the periodic development plans, which is to address poverty through the development of micro-enterprises and generate employment opportunities among the low-income families.

MEDEP has created more than 53,000 micro-entrepreneurs from among the people living below the poverty line over a period of 12 and half years. It’s persistent efforts and technical backstopping for almost nine years led the Government to formulate a Micro-Enterprise Policy in 2007 and to include micro-enterprise as a distinct category of industry in the 2010 Industrial Policy.