Chitra Kali metamorphoses from micro-entrepreneur to a millionaire
Asking her fellow women to prepare for a meeting, Chitra Kali
instructs the weavers opposite her house on knitting patterns. She was also
preparing food for a couple of guests in her small eatery-cum-shop. Chitra Kali
lives a very busy life. From dawn to dusk, she has a very busy schedule. Yet
she wears no signs of weariness. It seems that her preoccupation with the work
does not allow worries to consume her.
Born to a poor peasant family of
farming Magar community, Chitra Kali Budhamagar suffered from depravation even
during her childhood. Fortunately, she was married off at the age of 24 in 1986
with Khim Budhamagar. Perhaps, it was the grinding poverty that goaded her into
doing something different.
It was only since 2003, she began
collecting the yarn made of Allo –
Himalayan stinging nettle – going door-to-door. At the beginning, she used to
sell yarn in Kathmandu and buy readymade garments from there and sell them at
A resident of Lung Village
Development Committee (VDC) ward no. 6 Bahane in Pyuthan district, the
45-year-old outspoken woman, received a three-month skill development training
in micro-enterprises in 2005 from Micro-Enterprise Development Programme
(MEDEP), UNDP. She began her journey in business with a small hotel. MEDEP
supported her to secure an 8,000 rupees-loan from Agricultural Development Bank
She initially invested Rs 50,000,
borrowed from ADB/N, in buying allo yarn from local collectors, mostly women.
Within a span of 6 years, she has diversified and expanded her business. She
has borrowed more than 1.3 million rupees from various financial institutions
and individual lenders.
Chitra Kali used to sell 50 to 60
kg of yarn 8 years ago. Now she sells 3-6 quintals of yarn. She buys the yarn
at Rs 550 and sells at Rs 700 a kg. This fetches her a profit of Rs 150 per kg.
Her monthly income hovers around Rs 45,000 to 90,000 and the total annual
profit at the lowest is Rs 540,000.
Her property has doubled over the
period compared to her borrowings. Now she owns a house at 6 Bahane worth Rs
2.2 million and another at Syaulibang VDC worth Rs 500,000. This apart, she has
yarn, caps, bags and other products of allo worth Rs 300,000 in her Kothi Himal
Allo Cloth Industry at Bahane.
She has not only improved her
financial condition, Chitra Kali has employed 12 rural women and has been
helping nearly 2,500 rural women by purchasing their allo yarn and handmade
goods. “The training in skill development for micro-entrepreneurs and guidance
provided by MEDEP, my perseverance and continued support from family members
have brought me to this position,” she shares.
Syaulibang VDC lies in the border
of Rolpa and Baglung districts where Allo is
available in abundance. Taking advantage of availability of this wasted
renewable natural resource, she provided Allo processing and yarn making training
to several hundreds of women of adjoining VDCs of Syaulibang falling in Rolpa
and Baglung districts and has encouraged the poor women residing in the VDCs of
these districts. These women mainly spin yarn of Allo and sell yarn to
Chitra Kali and some of them also sell her small products like mobile phone
covers, tea coasters, wrist bands, and ladies bags among others.
Chitra Kali also has another
incarnation. She is a social worker. She is the Chair of Kothi Himal Savings
and Credit Cooperatives; Chair, Kothi Himal Group’s Association; Chair,
National Allo Entrepreneurs’ Association supported by MEDEP and represented
by Allo entrepreneurs
of 26 districts; Treasurer, District Micro-Entrepreneurs’ Groups Association;
Member, National Micro-Entrepreneurs’ Association Nepal (NMEFEN) all
organizations supported and promoted by MEDEP; and Member of Pyuthan Chamber of
Commerce and Industry.
Her meaningful participation in
those institutions emboldens other women from the marginalized communities to
assert their rights to participate in decision-making processes that affect
their lives. With her unfailing commitment to the organizations and networks
she is involved in, Chitra Kali has become an advocate of women’s rights.
“Women’s participation in
such processes not only makes them aware, but also enables them to claim their
basic rights,” she asserts.
She has been advocating with the
VDC, Community Forest Users’ Groups, Department of Cottage and Small Industries
and MEDEP to allocate budget for destroying a killer weed locally known as “forest
killer” to enhance the cultivation of Allo,
to provide training, to increase funding, and to provide collateral-free soft
loans to the rural women in order to develop them as micro-entrepreneurs.
Behind her rise as an exemplary
entrepreneur lies the unwavering support from her husband Khim Budhamagar and
her sons Deependra and Tilak. Speaking about her future plan, she said, “We
need to diversify and expand our business. The women involved in the Allo business should
be trained in diversifying their products and enhancing their quality.
She says that raising awareness
among the people, holding the concerned government and non-government agencies
accountable to the poor people, allocating budgets for capacity-building of
aspirant women entrepreneurs, protecting existing Allo fields,
growing Allo in
additional places, establishing backward and forward linkages could sustain the