On International Youth Day, Nepal highlights vital job training programmes for returning youth migrants to become entrepreneurs
Dhal Bahadur Karki, now 37, spent much of his young life working as a labourer in his home country of Nepal. Despite being a skilled carpenter, he could find only sporadic employment at furniture factories in the capital city of Kathmandu. Frustrated by low pay, he moved to United Arab Emirates as a migrant worker. Like so many desperate youth who look to other countries to find gainful employment, Karki was duped into paying a hefty fee to an employment agency with the promise of a well-paying job that suited his skills.
But, upon arrival in Dubai, Karki realized that the reality was far from what he was promised. He was forced to work as a labourer in extremely poor working conditions with wages lower than he had earned in Nepal.
After 14 months of working, Karki had not even earned enough to repay the US $1,200 employment agent fee.
“In 14 months, I had earned just 900 dollars,” Karki said. “My life was not going to be better and therefore I escaped from the factory and started working on my own.”
But soon after he escaped, he was arrested by local immigration authorities for working illegally and deported back to Nepal.
Back home his situation was far worse than before he migrated; no job, a family of 6 to take care of and the social stigma of returning from abroad without earning any money.
“I was depressed,” Karki said.
But thanks to a joint initiative by the Government of Nepal and UNDP, the Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) gave Karki a beacon of hope. MEDEP works with poor people to lift them out of poverty through entrepreneurship development and employment generation. It is funded by UNDP and AusAID (Australian Government Overseas Aid Program).
“I had carpentry skills, but I had no idea about entrepreneurship, loan facilities and market linkages. MEDEP helped me realize the potential of starting up my own enterprise,” Karki said.
MEDEP helped him develop a business plan for a furniture factory in his local neighbourhood. With four other beneficiaries of the programme, Karki opened a factory in January 2010. MEDEP helped the group acquire a loan for the startup, purchase the right equipment and create market linkages.
The factory, which is located in the Dolakha district, some 150 km from Kathmandu, now employs 5 staff. In under three years, it has earned a reputation for producing quality furniture including tables, chairs, cupboards and sofas. Karki and his fellow beneficiaries now run a thriving business where their products are sold throughout the country.
Karki’s story demonstrates the importance of providing youth with the necessary skills and knowledge to create their own businesses. There are some annual 214 million international migrants and young people constitute more than 10 per cent. There are a variety of reasons why youth migrate but many are escaping economic hardship. However by implementing programs like MEDEP, youth are now offered alternatives from migrating to countries where they are extremely vulnerable and face exploitation.
Karki’s story demonstrates the importance of providing youth with the necessary skills and knowledge to start their own businesses. Programmes such as MEDEP offer an alternative to some of the estimated 214 million yearly migrants, more than 10 per cent of whom are young people. Often forced to migrate to escape economic hardship, youth such as Karki are extremely vulnerable and face exploitation.
Thanks to his training, Karki’s life has been transformed. Not only is he now able to provide for his family, he is also creating jobs for others.