Stitching cloths - An income opportunity in Salija village in Parbat

November 2005; Dhan Shree Sherpaja and Jhalmaya Purja are two friends who were involved in household chores in Salija Village Development Committee in Parbat district prior to them being incorporated into the Micro Enterprise Development Program in the district in 1998. They were part of MEDEP's target group i.e. people who were living on the edge of poverty, earning less than four thousand seven hundred rupees annually. Both these friends were involved in household chores, cutting fodder for the cattle and working in the fields where output was little. There was no monetary or economic return for their contribution in the field or washing and cleaning the dishes at home. They were educated enough to read and write but not sufficient to find themselves a job. They were unemployed and had no income to call their own. They were in search for opportunities to put food on the plate for their family in place where there was no economic activity.

Dhan Shree who is 19 and Jhalmaya 18 were selected as part of the MEDEP target group following an extensive household survey of Parbat district in 1998. They both had entrepreneurial skill, which needed to be sharpened and put to optimum use. They had their interest in stitching clothes because the nearest tailor in their village was a walk two hours away. Having studied their potentials and the market they could cater to analyzing the demand of the people in their village, MEDEP through its institutional partner the DCSI provided Dhan Shree and Jhalmaya a six month tailoring course in near by Milan choke. Through the six-month training they received, both learnt to stitch shirts, blouses, trousers, salwar kamiz, and the bhoto and children?s clothes.

Upon completion of the training course they had acquired the skills to stitch but not the machines to start their work. MEDEP through its institutional partner the Agriculture Development Bank as well as the local Kali Gandaki saving and credit co-operative organization made efforts to provide the two enterprising women with micro credits. However, due to lack of funds with the Co-operative and the distant location of the nearest Bank, these enterprising women mobilized resources (loans) through friends and relatives at interest rates which were 50% in excessive of what the bank would charge. Their entrepreneurial belief and confidence did not deter them from following their intuition that they could make gains from the training they had receive no matter what the rate of interest for the loans they had taken. The had a debt of eighteen thousand rupees which was also their investment to buy two sewing machines, cloth, a table and some basic furniture when they started their tailoring enterprise in the month of July 2000. Two months into their venture, when they had no income at all, they were able to generate an income of twenty eight hundred (Rs 2800.) in the first month and twenty five hundred (Rs 2500) in the second month. Their performance and the growing demand for their service in the village encouraged them. They were confident they could repay back their debts in nine months time and expand their services through a loan from the bank or the co-operative.

The encouragement they feel and the level of their confidence they say has been through the support of the Micro Enterprise Development Program in Parbat district and through the initiatives of MEDEP staff in the village. Dhan Maya and Jhalamaya have received encouragement from their family and social recognition for them has come along with their success. Finding it hard to believe that from no income two month ago they see themselves having the potentials to earning thirty thousand annually, they are appreciative of the program (MEDEP) aimed at generating income and employment through micro enterprise development in their village. Being enterprising and farsighted, they look forward to the program's support to be given the opportunity to take a training in repair and maintenance of the sewing machine as well as advanced tailoring courses to make dresses and suits. The two enterprising women supported by MEDEP say they will start visiting schools in their villages as well as locations in close proximity to take orders for school dresses and uniforms. They say the opportunities are enormous if they can market their services to schools through MEDEP?s help. The demand for their services is growing and people wanting to learn their skill are many. To encourage people like themselves, they have started training fellow villagers what they have learnt but not for free. They teach people to stitch and charge them for the service, an approach they learnt from the Micro Enterprise Creation training provided by MEDEP.

Gum Maya Garbuja another young lady participant in MEDEP who also participated in the six month tailoring course along with Dhan Shree and Jhalmaya has started her own independent enterprise. She works from her home which gives her time to do her household chores as well as look after her enterprise. Initially she started to provide her services by mending and stitching old clothes. Today she stitches new clothes for her clients and had an income of fifteen hundred rupees in the first month of her operation in the month of July 2000. She says it is hard to believe what she actually is doing, doing her own business.