Sanu Maya Shrestha, age 33, residing in Konjyosom Rural Municipality, Nepal, is a successful entrepreneur engaged in multiple enterprises with the support of her husband Surya Narayan Shrestha. Prior to building their business, they were engaged in family agriculture and vegetable farming, which was not sufficient to meet the increasing expenses of the family. In 2008, the lack of economical resources prompted them to take a loan from the Agriculture Development Bank (approximately USD 1,500) and from a local cooperative (approximately USD 500) to open a grocery store. Thanks to the income from the store, in 2012 Sanu Maya started a small poultry farm which proved to be very profitable. Indeed, now they are running a farm with 4,500 chicks. The total monthly income of Sanu Maya is now above NPR 100,000 (approximately USD 860). This has also helped her in starting other side businesses, like milk collection center and rice milling.
In 2019, Sanu Maya attended a business management training, as part of the project “Strengthening the Capacity of the Energy Sector to Deliver Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Results” This training gave her basic and fundamental business knowledge, such as accounting expenses basics, market investigation and how to build a relation with market actors and eco-system stakeholders. The training represented a further leap forward for her business. With the support of the training mentors, she registered the poultry farm, thus becoming the only one running a poultry farm professionally in that area. She is in the process to obtain a stable high voltage connection to electricity through the Community Rural Electric Entity (CREE), which will allow her to run the rice mill, and maintain the preferred temperature in the store and in the poultry farm, especially in winter.
In building their business, Sanu Maya and her husband faced a number of challenges. Finance is a bottleneck for many starting businesses, including theirs. Access to loans is very difficult, as bank requirements are very strict and difficult to meet, and procedures usually take a very long time. Moreover, interest rates in cooperatives and microfinance are very high. With support of the project mentors, she opened a bank account at Sanima Bank Ltd, where she applied for a loan request. The bank has completed its valuation process and at the stage of approval.
Beyond the financial barrier, Sanu Maya and her husband also struggled with poor and insufficient access to water, which limited their development, and with maintaining the right temperature in the poultry farm during the winter season, when there is a high risk of chickens dying due to cold.
But Sanu Maya managed to overcome all those challenges and her plans for the future do not stop here. She wants to start up a new farm, buy new appliances, including one for temperature maintenance, and build a professional rice mill for the production of animal feed. After the business training in 2019, she realized that she needs to deepen her knowledge on how to run poultry professionally and prevent diseases affecting chickens. Thus, the project has identified and linked her with a leading poultry company of Nepal. The company will regularly supply inputs, provide technical supports (training and counseling) and provide buy back guarantee.
When asking about women’s role Sanu Maya has no doubts: “Women can be engaged in a large variety of activities. However, they need self-confidence, patience and support from their family. I encourage any women to try and start their own business”