One of the top business awards given by Nepal’s business community went to a woman entrepreneur who dreamt of becoming an employee but ended up as an employer instead. Sharada Rijal, who owns and runs her company called Milan Garments, also serves on the board of WEAN (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal). She bested other entrepreneurs, mostly men, for the national recognition in Nepal’s Search for Top Ten Best Entrepreneurs.
“I am honored to be selected as one of the best in the business in Nepal. Truly, an honor I share with all the women working for their rights in a society dominated by men,” she said.
“Why be an employee when I can be an employer instead? I can employ myself, for starters, then as the business grows my family, then others,” she quipped, provoking thought.
By that attitude alone, there is already the spark that makes a person suited to business. Indeed, quick thinking and bold decision making are characteristics of one who runs an enterprise. This is the measure for pitting one against others in the competitive field of business, tough and straight talk in cutting deals and keeping the wheels of production turning.
When Sharada led a business mission to the Philippines, as participant in Manila International Fair, she brought with her representative products of companies belonging to members of WEAN. Many fair visitors were impressed with the variety of items, from herbal products, gems and fashion accessories, food delicacies and crafts, including Milan Garments’ product line of pashmina shawls, stoles, jackets. She was pushing for the products of her fellow women entrepreneurs at WEAN like they were hers, more than she did her pashmina shawls.
“The clients here in the Philippines do not go for warm garments, so I had to promote more relevant items from Nepal. But garments and hats are really my line and these are destined for the west,” she explained. Very intricately woven, colored with vegetable dyes and with typical Nepalese designs, the pashmina shawls could easily be on the shelves of high priced boutiques in Manila and Hong Kong, elsewhere.
Balancing the roles of wife, mother and entrepreneur is the biggest challenge of all. She does not consider the role of wife and mother an extra burden, but rather as an inspiration that keeps her going in her business.
“While I am attending to business, half of my mind is on household matters. But somehow, I can give both a hundred percent attention. It’s not a choice between one over the other. Both are important responsibilities I have to meet.”