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Interview


Nepali Times, Nepali Society on Hajuri Bista, From Issue #61

So you think that great little project you had in mind might be a bit too small for your status? You're wrong. Just ask Hajuri Bista. Hajuri, who comes from a well-to-do family, was living the normal life of a Nepali housewife, raising two children, taking care of her home.

Seven years ago all that changed into something a little spicier. The Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (WEAN) was conducting a food processing training and the then 39-year-old Hajuri decided to give it a shot. By some odd happenstance, all 45 trainees were women, mostly housewives with a talent for making lip-smacking pickles. And it was there that the idea began to simmer-surely this talent that so many Nepali women have could be purveyed on a grander scale. Why not produce hygienic, natural Nepali-style pickles the way you would for your family, but sell them?

It was a great idea, but it needed some work. So, training over, Hajuri, along with Keshar Shrestha, who was also in the program, spent the next three years experimenting with their traditional recipes and new skills. The duo decided to bunk down in Hajuri's kitchen and made every conceivable Nepali pickle. They pickled, they tasted, they fed, they sold and they surveyed to see which of their concoctions would have the most impact.

MBA students could learn a thing or two from Hajuri about how to sell. "I went around selling the product to people I knew, not giving it for free as many thought I would. I was selling it so they could give me their true opinion on the product. I took this very seriously," says Hajuri.

Hajuri and Keshari invested Rs 40,000 each, they had only one assistant and saved on rent by not moving out of Hajuri's kitchen. Today, their pickle is a hot business-their annual turnover is in the region of Rs 4.5 million. And they're spreading this goodness around. In their three-room production unit-in Hajuri's backyard by now-20 women make their living creating pickles that some of us can't live without. The 17 varieties of tongue-tingling pickles, marketed by WEAN, are appropriately called Navaras-"nine flavours." Of the five women who make pickles for the brand, Hajuri has the most devoted following. And the good news is, the humble, if potent Nepali pickle is going international. Word is that folks in Hong Kong are craving this "home-made" taste. As for Nepali students abroad, it is impossible to wean them off Hajuri's pickles.

Hajuri is proud of her success-after all, she has converted something often dismissed as mere housework into one hot product. "Nepali women today need to understand that times of have changed and we need to exploit our knowledge," says Hajuri.

Source: http://nepalitimes.com/news.php?id=9764#.UkVQnX9MdEI