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Leading Nepali women towards entrepreneurship – OnlineKhabar English News

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Prakriti Mainali came to Kathmandu, along with her family when she was a child. Among three sisters, she was the youngest. 

“Then, I saw my mother sick and my father old,” Mainali says, adding her dad was already 51 when she was born. “Deep down, I always used to feel that I am the one who would look after my life even in childhood.”

After completing school in Kathmandu, she chose to study commerce considering her family’s financial status; it would require a lot of money to study medical science or engineering. While pursuing a BBS degree, she realised that she should be an entrepreneur.

Around 10 years later today, she has the life that she had dreamed of: an entrepreneur. With her business, she has also made efforts to empower women from disadvantaged communities to live a better life, which according to her is a common aspiration of all human beings.

Empowering disadvantaged women

While studying, Mainali did not have a clear idea of which business she should do. In a way, she was not even confident if she could do any business.

Shakti Milan workers sewing bags. Photo: Shankar Giri

But, during her master’s study, she realised she was privileged enough to dream about starting her own business. In addition, this realisation triggered another question in her: what about those disadvantaged women who are deprived of educational and job opportunities? What should they dream about?

These questions paved a clear path for her entrepreneurial aspiration. “These questions brought clarity on me that I would do such business that would economically empower such women by creating job opportunities.”

Following her desire that had remained in her unconscious, she co-founded Shakti Milan Nepal in 2014 by investing Rs 25,000 with one such woman to work with, one sewing machine, and one product. She registered the company in 2016.

Mainali chose the name not only because ‘Shakti’ means ‘power’. Its connotation in Hinduism is goddesses whereas ‘Milan’ is ‘together’. Hence, it means the power of women coming together, says Mainali.  

“Not only does Shakti Milan work to economically empower women, but this enterprise also has another perspective: environmental sustainability. Therefore, we make varieties of bags from rice sacks, which are considered waste in Nepal. by upcycling them.”

Those upcycled bags are mainly exported to Germany. Other than this, the company also sends them to the USA, Australia, Japan, and China. Shakti Milan’s products are also sold in the local market through collaboration with NGOs and corporate houses.

The childcare centre at Shakti Milan. Photo: Shankar Giri

As of now, Shakti Milan has about 20 workers, all women from the marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Mainali says, “We also have home-based workers because it is not possible for every woman to come into the workplace and work. That does not necessarily mean women should be deprived of job opportunities.”

Shakti Milan also has a childcare centre. Mainali shares, “I am a mother myself. It requires my whole family to take care of my child. But, most of the women who work here are single women. They have no alternative but to bring their children to the workplace. That is why we have a childcare centre.”

Challenges as a woman entrepreneur

A mother’s need for childcare facilities has made Mainali clear that women’s journey to entrepreneurship is fraught with challenges. Still, at the personal level, she feels herself privileged as, she says, she never faced any kind of restrictions from her family. 

“I was brought up in Kathmandu and got an opportunity to study. My family also always supported me and my entrepreneurial journey,” says Mainali, “But, while saying so I cannot represent every woman. There still are such women from whom it is very difficult to step out of their home and work.”

Products of Shakti Milan. Photo: Shankar Giri

Still, there are other bigger challenges. Although government policies are friendly for women entrepreneurs, especially loan and subsidies policies, the patriarchal social structure stands as a barrier. “There is always pressure for working women to balance both work and family life, but it is not applicable to men,” she explains.

According to Mainali, the challenges of every woman can be personal, and how they challenge those obstacles shows their potential. 

However, as per Mainali, she crossed her ways with many other challenges during the initial days of Shakti Milan.

She explains, “I did such a business that was completely new. Therefore, I did not have any clear idea of anything, be it about quality or designing. But, gradually, we overcame these hurdles by learning by doing.”

Started with only one product of a tour bag, Shakti Milan is now in the seventh year and has expanded its product variety up to 25 kinds that include pencil cases, tour bags, school bags, and handbags with an annual turnover of Rs 10 million.

Promoting women entrepreneurship

There are challenges, but opportunities too, and women also have some comparative advantages over men, according to Mainali.

Prakriti Mainali. Photo: Shankar Giri

“Skills-wise, women are far ahead of men. For instance, my mother knows how to make pickles, Dhaka clothes, and also has agricultural skills. But, my father does not have all these skills,” she says, “I feel women can be  lifestyle entrepreneurs, especially in a country like ours.”

Therefore, Mainali, who also owns a bread and breakfast venture,  also encourages women entrepreneurship outside and within her company as well. So far, she has helped about 10 women from her company only to set up their own businesses by providing sewing machines and technical assistance.

Recognising Mainali’s efforts, the government of Nepal awarded her with the National Youth Talent Award 2020 in the entrepreneurship category. She also has been appointed an executive member of the Social Entrepreneurship Fund under the Social Welfare Council, Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens.

Further, she aims at “creating more and more job opportunities for women and inspiring them to be entrepreneurs by knowledge sharing.”



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Dambar Chemjong’s efforts to revive TU’s glory – OnlineKhabar English News

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Dambar Chemjong is sitting outside his office in the Central Department of Anthropology at Tribhuvan University, the oldest and biggest university in the country, briefing a prospective student about the benefits of studying anthropology. His eyes light up as he talks as that one can clearly see how passionate he is when it comes to it. He shows the prospective student the research conducted by the department. To make things easier for the student, he even calls to ask when admissions for the department would open. To him, this is just a part of his job.

“I want to change things. Make a difference,” says Chemjong, the head of the Central Department of Anthropology at the university. “They say the university is dead and not like it was. But, I beg to differ and want to prove to people that it is alive and doing well.”

Chemjong took office in August 2018 and since then has changed the face of the department. He has added relevance to the course, created a fun learning environment, established an automated library and even constructed a garden to add some aesthetic to an otherwise dull TU compound. 

But now, he wants to do more. Through small efforts like these, he wants his students to produce journals and research on topics not discussed before. He wants to create a learning environment at TU itself and hopes other departments can do the same so that the TU can once again become the students’ first choice if they choose to stay in Nepal.

The garden was constructed with funds from a USAID-funded project. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Big issues with big institution

“Small things like these go a long way. You need a feel-good factor,” he says. “But, this is just a beginning as a lot more needs to be done for the university to do that.”

The major problem, Chemjong says is the TU’s centralised structure that does not help the departments or the constituent campuses that are spread across Nepal from Taplejung in the east to Darchula in the west. He says that currently, the TU is too big. Currently, the university along with its constituent campuses in all seven provinces has over 600,000 students.

“If you look at top universities in Europe and the US, there are hardly 10,000 students. Only state universities in the US have more than 10,000,” he says.

His solution for this is to scrape all the constituent campuses and set up different universities in each province with not more than 5,000 students in one.

“What is the use of having over half-a-million students when you can’t even conduct exams and release results on time,” he questions.

Chemjong wants this library to become a learning centre for anthropology students. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Another problem he says is having to ask the central campus at Kirtipur for even minor decisions. From adding a bench to staff for cleaning, everything has to go through the central campus at Kirtipur.

“If you want to make any decisions at a campus in Darchula, you’ll have to ask permission from Kirtipur. This, to me, makes no sense. If we can decentralise it, I’m sure in the next decade, we can see a lot of improvement.”

But, for that to happen, the leg-pulling culture at the university needs to stop, he says. He calls on teachers and officials at the university to understand what the place stands for and be true to its principles.

“As professors and teachers, we need to understand that we have to evolve because today’s age is different. Students are different. If they won’t find value, they’ll go abroad.”

While he says that students going abroad is more to do with it being more accessible, he is aware that not all departments in the university offer attractive education.

“I don’t want to speak about others, but there are some courses which are quite archaic. That needs to change for the TU to become a sought-after destination for students.”

Journals published by the TU Central Department of Anthropology. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

For continuous growth

He gives the example of his own department. When he started out in 2018, there were only nine students. Today, there are nearly 30 as the department is planning on adding PhD courses having recently added MPhil.

“Constantly evolving is important in today’s age. We’ve also been talking about credit transfers and being a part of the Erasmus exchange programmes. These are what make courses attractive for students along with the different research and job opportunities that we have been helping them out with.”

This, he says, will help the individual capacity of both the students and teachers as with better teachers, the place will have better students who will drive each other towards perfection. But, its not as easy and he knows that.

“Good teachers are not appreciated in Nepal. I feel that a good teacher who has the ability to pull students needs to be paid more. It’s simple. But, teachers getting paid more in Nepal is not the norm, which is why many do research work individually with other organisations.”

A classroom at the TU Central Department of Anthropology. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

He says he does not blame them but instead the system that makes it sound bad that teachers work for these organisations. He says, this, instead, should be promoted like it is in the west as it will improve the teachers and be good for the organisation. 

“But, here, they want them to sit in a room and not be open to exploring, which is dumb.”

This is why he says people at the TU need to be vocal as it can create a change through dialogue and conflict. 

“They say I talk a lot. But, I do so because not many here do. I want to make sure that this department does well till I’m here. I don’t like leg-pulling. I want to work with all I have and give all that I have for this department and help both students and teachers reach their goals.”



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Hero Motocorp launches Hero Xtreme 160R and Hero Hunk 150R in Nepal – OnlineKhabar English News

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Kathmandu, March 15

Building on its commitment to providing youthful, premium and technologically-advanced products in the Nepali market, Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters, on Monday launched two new premium motorcycles in the country – Hero Xtreme 160R and Hero Hunk 150R.

Adding a striking and powerful new chapter to the popular premium brand Xtreme, the Xtreme 160R further strengthens Hero MotoCorp’s presence in the premium motorcycle segment, says the company.

The motorcycle offers an unparalleled mix of performance, sportiness, and features while boasting a muscular stance with an optimum mix of comfort and control.

The Xtreme 160R is accompanied by an all-new Hunk 150R, designed to deliver an unmatched ride experience along with new-age styling.

Both the new motorcycles cater to the aspirations of the youth in Nepal and offer a dynamic combination of performance, styling, and differentiated appeal, the company claims.

The Xtreme 160R and Hunk 150 R will be available at Hero MotoCorp showrooms across the country.

The Xtreme 160R, which comes with a double-disc and a single-channel ABS is priced at Rs339,000 while the Hunk 150R which has the same feature is priced at Rs279,500.

Commenting on the launches, Sanjay Bhan, Head – Global Business, Hero MotoCorp, said, “ The Xtreme 160R has performed well in several global markets and we expect it to do well in Nepal too. We are confident that both the motorcycles will enable us to meet the aspirations of customers here.”

HERO XTREME 160R

Class leading acceleration

Setting the bar for sportiness and real-world performance, the new Xtreme 160R comes with a 160cc air-cooled BS-VI Compliant engine that is powered by XSens technology and advanced Programmed-Fuel-Injection. The Engine delivers an impressive power output of 15 BHP @ 8500 RPM. Joining the fast lane with a class-leading acceleration – 0-60 km/h in 4.7 seconds, the motorcycle has one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class, thanks to the low kerb-weight of 138.5 kg.

Exceptional handling

The new Xtreme 160R enjoys a commanding riding position with ergonomics engineered for the streets. The lightweight rigid diamond frame setup offers exceptional handling on the streets while making it a corner happy machine at the same time.

The 37mm telescopic front forks and a 7-step adjustable Rear Mono-shock Suspension setup is tuned for urban agility, providing precise handling and a smooth ride. Brakes with 276mm front petal disc and 220mm rear petal disc ensure that the rider is always in full control and confident of the stopping power. The 165 mm ground clearance ensures the ride is hurdle free.

First-in-segment features

The new Xtreme 160R is paired with a first-in-segmental LED package, from a sculpted full LED headlamp with LED DRLs in front, to LED indicators with hazard switch and down to the rear H signature LED tail lamp. The inverted fully digital LCD display together with the first-in-segment side-stand engine cut ff ensures the motorcycle is both technologically advanced and safe.

The head-turner is available in three vibrant colour combinations of pearl silver white, vibrant blue, and sports red.

HERO HUNK 150R

Superior ride and handling

Equipped with a 149cc air-cooled engine, the core of Hunk 150R delivers an impressive 14.2 BHP of power and 12.6 Nm of torque.

Aimed at providing real-world performance, the all-new Hunk 150R features a lightweight yet rigid diamond tubular frame offering precise handling and stability in corners and straight roads. Paired with 130/70MM radial rear tyre, the Hunk 150R ensures a superior road grip is provided in all types of road and riding conditions.

The riding triangle has been tuned to provide the perfect balance of agility, stability, and comfort. The motorcycle also boasts of a first in category 7 step adjustable mono-shock suspension for best in class handling ensuring a sporty ride. The broad 37mm beefy front forks also ensure a stable and plush ride.

Best-in-class features

The motorcycle boasts many safety features and is equipped with the first in category optional single-channel ABS ensuring safe braking. Sporting a new alloy wheel design, the 276mm front, and 220mm rear disc brakes come as a standard feature for efficient and immediate power stopping in all riding conditions. 

Designed to provide ease of access, the motorcycle features a sporty digi-analogue instrument cluster with a side stand indicator, trip metre, and a service reminder. The self-start button comes as standard and the engine kill switch is for added convenience. 

Dynamic design and style 

The Hunk 150R flaunts a muscular fuel tank with aggressive shrouds that make a statement while riding. Adding to the striking appeal is a chiselled rear cowl, sporty headlight with wolf-eyed LED position lamps, LED taillight with LED light guides making it easier to get recognised even in dark. The sport-dynamic graphics actuate the design lines offering an unmistakable style.

Colours with expression

The Hunk 150R is available in three colours – NH1 black, sports red, and techno blue.  



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‘Mobile library’ promoting art literature in Nepal – OnlineKhabar English News

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Kathmandu, February 18

Siddhartha Arts Foundation in collaboration with the Asia Art Archive (AAA) on Thursday officially launched Mobile Library: Nepal, in their bid to promote art literature.

The foundation’s Founder and Director Sangeeta Thapa states that the project will be resourceful for art students in Nepal.

According to the organisers, this library already contains around 600 books, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, and monographs. They say the project aims to democratise and increase access to art literature.

Furthermore, they hope to increase research regarding the socio-cultural and political impacts on folk and contemporary art sectors.

“The bookshelves are designed in such a way that they can be boxed and moved around. We have invited universities and galleries to host the books, we will start as soon as we get confirmation,” informs Director of Kathmandu Triennale 2077, Sharareh Bajracharya.

The project had its soft launch in the first week of February and the mobile library is currently housed in Bikalpa Art Centre, Pulchok. Works of popular Nepali art writers like Madan Chitrakar, Yam Prasad Sharma, Ram Dayal Rakesh, Mukesh Malla, Laya Mainali, and Ramesh Khanal are there.

During this project, a series of educational discourses and programmes will be organised till November 2021, along with a range of online and on-site activities including archive-building workshops, teacher-training programmes, and pop-up exhibitions.



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