Successful entrepreneur Savitri Devi Chaudhary

Savitri Devi Chaudhary
Savitri Devi Chaudhary. Photo: UNDP Nepal

Within a span of three years, Savitri Devi Chaudhary holds important positions in the small business sector— she is an active member of various associations, social networks and a role model for her village. She leads and represents the women entrepreneurs of Sunsari district as the Executive Member of the District Micro Entrepreneurs Groups Association (DMEGA), the Vice President of Eastern Regional Micro-entrepreneurs Federation (ERMEFN) and also the Executive Member of the National Micro Entrepreneurs Federation Nepal (NMEFN).

“I have represented my country as a successful Nepali woman entrepreneur in a fair held in Dhaka, Bangladesh,” says Savitri proudly.

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.

Not more than three years ago, Savitri was a simple housewife struggling to meet her basic needs. Her living conditions graded her in the category of the ‘hard core poor’ section of the society. Her husband was a small contractor but often fell ill. Most of the earnings and the little bit of land that they owned was also spent on his treatment. For survival, Savitri began working as a labourer on a daily wage basis.

Life changed for Savitri when she attended the UNDP Micro-enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) week-long training— on skills development and planning small enterprises. The project also provided a month long technical skills training on weaving jute products. As a result, a group of 10 women started producing jute products. To do all the production works, the women were able to establish a Common Facility Centre, at the total cost of Rs. 165,000 with the support of MEDEP (Rs. 100,000), the Village Development Committee (Rs. 25,000), the community (Rs. 40,000) and the District Development Committee provided in kind support for the construction of the building. In the year 2009, the women were able to make an annual profit of Rs. 300,000 – 400,000 only by selling their jute products.

The members have now increased to 28 from 10 and they formed a Cooperative in February 2010 with Savitri as the Chairperson.

“Last year my monthly income was between Rs. 4,000 - 5,000 and I earned about Rs. 20,000 extra by working as a local trainer for jute products. I would never have thought that I could support my paralysed husband to get regular treatment, send my children to school, buy food for the family and renovate my house only through this enterprise,” says Savitri. With the awareness brought about by the programme, the community values education and there is one hundred per cent enrolment of girls in schools. Savitri too has set an example in the community by sending her daughter-in-law to school.