When she started her business, Shanti Thokar was not aware of the incredible goals she could have reached. As her peers, she married at 18 years and dropped out of school to devote her time to her family. Shanti was engaged in her husband’s grocery store and over the years she became familiar with the business and gained confidence to start building trusting relationships with customers and suppliers.
From there to starting a new business on her own it was a short step. Her strong ambition led her to buy a goat. When she realized how productive this activity could be, she turned it into a profession. She applied for a loan from a local cooperative to cover her initial expenses, investing most of this money to buy 26 more goats. With time, her confidence and finance boost up and she slowly started looking after the grocery shop herself, while her husband became a full-time carpenter.
Starting a business from scratch was not an easy job. Her lack of business and technical skills affected the growth of her business. To overcome these barriers, she was involved in the Scaling up Energy Access through Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE Nepal Project) Project implemented by Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal (CRT/N) and supported by ENERGIA. She participated in training sessions on technology, finance, marketing, business skills, technical skills and leadership. “The orientation and business development training was precious because I learned to maintain accounts, calculate profit and dealing with diseases on animals” said Shanti.
Currently, she has started a buffalo farming and bee-keeping, diversifying her activities and income. Electrical appliances, such as the chaff cutter, have relieved her from the burden of the work, allowing her to invest her skills and time in the expansion of her business. This appliance have reduced the physical labour involved by cutting small straws and hay into small pieces to fed the cattle. Her business’ turnover has increased over time. She earns 5,000 NPR (USD 40) from the grocery shop, 30,000 NPR (USD260) from her buffalo and goat farming, and 15,000 NPR (USD 130) from honey, with a monthly net profit of 50,000 NPR (USD 430).
Shanti has become a role model in her community, thanks to her entrepreneurial skills that allowed her to overcome financial and market barriers, showing other women that they can run successful businesses while advocating for their interests. “As an entrepreneur I want to expand the farm and as a mother, I would like to provide a good education to my children. Most of all I would like to tell each and every woman that change is possible. You need to start with a small first step.”