Women scale the business ladder
KATHMANDU: The business sector in the country may predominantly be male oriented. Nevertheless, women are slowly building up and the equality factor with the help of various entrepreneurial organisations and their own skills in the field of business.
Entrepreneurship for women is seen as a rite of passage from poverty towards equality. Studies have proved that entrepreneurship, in the form of small and medium sized enterprises, can indeed empower women and over time fundamentally transform power relations within a society, making it a place where women can lead. In Nepal, entrenched structural and socio-cultural constraints challenge women entrepreneurs and make it hard for them to realise their potential as leaders in business.
“The main challenge faced by women entrepreneurs here is the lack of training facilities. They are still in the conception
stage of being economically independent and have only until recently begun to work outside of home,” said Srijana Rana, Secretary for Federation of Women Entrepreneurs’ Association of Nepal (FWEAN).
Adding that if provided the right opportunity and support by society women in Nepal have as much
capacity to grow in the field of business as men, Rana said, “Most women are involved in the small cottage industries, but nowadays they are slowly climbing the corporate ladder in banks and many other male dominant workfields.”
The country is enveloped in political turmoil, and it is difficult for the women entrepreneurs in Nepal to progress, said FWEAN president Pramila Acharya Rijal adding, “For anything to gain momentum and grow, the environment needs to be conducive and in Nepal the political environment at the moment is a big challenge for women entrepreneurs’ growth.”
Social culture in Nepal also does not allow women to run the family business. Stereotyped ideas that only men are capable of taking over a family run business still persist. “Neighbouring countries have many women industrialists but in Nepal the social mentality of people prevents women from doing business. Financial assistance for starting a business is more easily provided to men than women. This is a major drawback for women who want to get into business,” added Rijal.
According to her, the agricultural sector that is mainly women-run is going to be the most successful in the coming years. “The next five years will see women rise to new heights, if the environment is encouraging. Nepali women are driven and we will see a surge in the coming years,” she added.