Women becoming self-reliant thru homestays
Kathmandu, March 8
Various women entrepreneurs, who run homestays at different places in the country are helping promote tourism, providing job opportunities and contributing significantly to the country’s economy.
Sharing their experiences with THT today, women entrepreneurs said it had always been a challenge for a woman to start business.
“It was difficult to run the homestay as I lacked money. My husband, who returned from foreign employment, wasn’t confident about running a homestay. I took loan and ran the business. There is no looking back now. I have also been providing employment to other women in the village,” said Sita Gurung, who runs a homestay in Marsyangdi Khanigaun Tole in Lamjung.
The women faced hardships in the initial days. “Villagers made fun of us when we started the homestay,” said Parbati Gurung, 47, who has been running her homestay for the last 22 years in Syangja.
It was difficult initially as there were no tourists coming in. The women, however, were patient and waited. “There were not many tourists then. I waited patiently. There is now profit of more than Rs 20,000 per month,” said Chandrawati Gurung, an entrepreneur, who runs a homestay in Syangja.
Some women started homestay as they were inspired by others. Some of them saw there was no proper place in the villages where tourists could get food, tea and coffee. “I joined this business as there were no proper eateries here. There are 15 such homestays here which serve more than 16,000 tourists each year,” said Tilmaya Gurung, who runs a homestay in Besisahar, Lamjung. She is the vice-chair of the homestay committee in Lamjung.
The women were attracted to the business as they could not make much money working in the field. “I used to sell milk and work in the field. I didn’t earn much. So I started running a homestay,” said Damber Kumari Gurung, who runs a homestay in Ghandruk.
Running homestay business is not easy. The women are dedicated to providing best services to tourists. “It is important to give the best service. If you ignore this, you can’t run the business for long. One must provide quality service,” said Damber Kumari.
These women are not just running a business to make a living, they are also bringing about change in the country’s economy by creating job opportunities. “I have hired some locals to play panche baaja and other musical instruments. Also, women are employed to help me in running the homestay,” said Parbati.
Women entrepreneurs have also been able to bring a change in their own lives. They have become more confident and enjoy more freedom. “We were not allowed to talk in front of our in-laws, dance and sing, but after we started the business we have been able to talk in front of them and share our opinions. We have also been performing cultural dances. I felt awkward talking to people, but that has changed now,” said Parbati.
Through homestay business women are learning foreign culture and languages. “Running a homestay gives me opportunity to know about somebody else’s culture and language. It is all about culture exchange,” said Parbati.
Though the women run business, they often need help from men for certain works such as bringing necessary items from market and also for construction works. “Men help us in construction works, doing dishes and cooking food, among other works,” said Tilmaya Gurung, 37, who runs a homestay in Lamjung.
Sita Gurung, Tilmaya Gurung, Chandrawati Gurung, Parbati Gurung, Damber Kumari Gurung and Dil Kumari Gurung, women entrepreneurs who are running homestays in different locations in Nepal were honoured by Maiti Nepal for their contribution to tourism sector and bringing about changes in society at an event organised in the capital on the occasion of International Women’s Day.