Entrepreneurs hope for peace to expand business
June 2008; Byangdhunga village, ward no. 2 of Kavre district is now a center of attraction where groups of young Magaratis (Dalits) are engaged in manufacturing leather shoes. Men are busy designing and cutting the raw materials while the women are engaged in giving finishing touches and packaging the final product. These young men and women are now employed in their own village and are able to earn Rs 5000- 6000 per month. If peace allows the country to operate smoothly, they hope to become the number-one shoe manufacturers in the country.
There are 35 poor Magaratis (Dalit) households in the village that rely on farming and occasional labour works for their livelihood. Upto recently, very few men and women were working in shoe factories in Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Despite of being so near to the capital Kathmandu and just half an hour drive from Banepa, the majority of the young generation was unemployed, until recently when the scenario changed after the UNDP Micro-enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) intervened. Analysing the skill of these people in shoe making, the level of interest to do something productive and the market demand, MEDEP motivated them to form a micro- enterprise group to start a leather shoe enterprise in the village.
In December 2007, 24 young Dalits (16 male and 8 female) organised themselves into a group while MEDEP provided an entrepreneurship training and also an additional support of Rs. 78,000 required to establish a leather shoe enterprise. It was interesting to see that the entrepreneurs had collected Rs. 120,000.00 (rupees five thousand per person) amongst themselves with the support of their families , as investment to meet the operational cost and buy the machines.
Madan Magrati, the Marketing Manager says, 'We are producing school shoes, formal shoes, canvas shoes, sports shoes and other shoes as per the demand of the customers. We have the capacity to manufacture 30-35 pairs on a daily basis.' He further added that they had reached a sales volume of Rs 350,000.00 in the span of the first 5 months. 'I am proud to say that our products have proven to be of high quality and attractive that can easily compete in the local market. We are also providing full time employment to 7 people in addition to the 24 founder members.'
They purchase the raw materials from Kathmandu and sell the shoes in adjoining cities such as Banepa, Dhulikhel and Kathmandu. They see the need to invest more as the demand for their products is on the rise.
As part of transparent management scale, categorisation of various types of works with appropriate payment scales was established bringing clarity to the remuneration of their employees for the time and labour. Their hardwork, skill and investment has eventually paid off. It is estimated that the average per capita income of these micro- entrepreneurs has increased by 90% over these last five months.