Raju's journey to become an entrepreneur
April 2009; Raju Kumar Maharjan, 34, of Panga, Kirtipur has transformed his life since starting up a small business. He was an alcoholic but has turned away from drinking as he is now busy making colourful candles for sale. He makes at least 100 candles of various sizes in a full day's work.
'I became an alcoholic by falling into bad company. I was working as a sub-contractor for construction works but the contractors stopped trusting me and I no longer had any work,' he recalls. His health was deteriorating and his wife, daughter and sisters pleaded with him to stop drinking as his habit was getting worse day by day. The family admitted him to the Richmond Rehabilitation Centre supported by the UNDP's HIV/AIDS programme. The Centre also helps people to give up alcohol dependency.
During the course of his recovery at the Centre, Raju attended a 'Start Improve Your Business', a 9-day course, supported by the National Enterprise development Centre for Nepal (NEDC/N) and UNDP's Micro-enterprise Development (MEDEP) and HIV/AIDS Programme. There he learned how to make candles. Also, his participation in a two-day training on 'Appreciative Inquiry' conducted in July-August 2008, helped him to develop positive thinking. During the course, Raju was inspired by watching a documentary film of people who had taken similar training courses and had gone on to establish successful small businesses.
After spending six months at the Rehabilitation Centre, Raju returned home to set up his candle-making enterprise. MEDEP supported him to buy the initial raw materials of wax, thread and a frame for making candles.
In his first five months, supported by his family, Raju has invested 25,000 rupees and has made a profit of 10,000 rupees so far. He sells his candles to the nearby shops. The many hours of daily power cuts mean there is a high demand for candles. More than the financial aspect of his business his family is very happy that he has completely recovered and is busy working. His family and neighbours are amazed at his speedy recovery and are helping him to regain his confidence and build up his business. Raju says, 'I have not been able to meet the demand for candles but I can expand this business if I can get more resources and put in more hours.' These days, his family and neighbours see him as an emerging entrepreneur rather than an alcoholic. Inspired by his success, his sister is now starting to learn the business from him !