August 25, 2017 09:24 AM NPT
Sharada Rijal, owner of Milan Garments, United Nepal Felt Industries, and Lalit Handicrafts, says she always dreamt of having her own business and becoming an entrepreneur. In 2010, after almost a decade of hard work, she was honored by the Ministry of Industry for being a successful woman entrepreneur.
Today, she is one of the most skilled businesswomen running multiple companies simultaneously with an ease that is inspiring. Her companies are recognized by Nepal Foreign Trade Association and Nepal Handicraft Association.
Of all her businesses, the felt hats that she exports have caught the attention of many local and international markets. While United Nepal Felt Industries and Lalit Handicrafts sell the goods in local markets of Nepal, Milan Garments operates globally exporting the products to countries like South Korea, Japan, and Israel to name a few.
Before she forayed into the world of business, Rijal was a teacher. Though she always saw herself as an entrepreneur, lack of financial and social support didn’t allow her to take any risks to get into business. She claims of beginning her journey with three vending machines and the big leap came when she was later introduced to a European garment dealer who helped her introduce her products to foreign markets.
The varieties of hats that are designed representing different moods, expressions, and attitudes quickly became a crowd favorite abroad. She is still remembered as the ‘Hat Lady’ in international markets. In Nepal, the products are available at ‘Mahaguthi’, a handicraft retail store located in Lazimpat and Kupondole.
Though through hard work Rijal has managed to bring in many loyal customers, she says running a business is a never-ending challenge. Your business might be an established one but you will always have to work hard to take it to newer heights. Rijal confesses that she still has to tackle many problems to sustain her business.
“I’m constantly working to improve business because there is a lot of competition today,” she says adding that lack of manpower and political instability makes it even worse. But the passionate entrepreneur doesn’t let anything stop her and aims for excellence despite the many hurdles in her way.
Along with being a successful entrepreneur, she is also working to uplift the standard of Nepalis women in the society.
“The main goal of my companies is to bring women into the mainstream of business and try to make them self reliant,” says Rijal adding that her companies emphasize cost effectiveness with good quality products and uses locally available raw materials.
Rijal, who is currently serving as the vice-chairperson of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal, says that you can achieve anything you want to as long you have the ability to dream. She believes what your mind can conjure will come true if you are willing to work hard.