Based on six years of experience on promoting local farmers and their products through Farmers Mart at 1905, a full-fledged store with the same name was established on Dec, 2014 at Jawalakhel chowk by Shoba Rayamajhi and her friend. Her deep connection with agriculture was her muse to open this store. As she grew up with a family farm, she loved fresh crops and food. That’s how she understood the importance of having easy and regular access to fresh healthy food for everyone. She introduces herself as a conscious entrepreneur who works for the community by the community.
Farmers Mart is based on agriculture and handicrafts. It supports animal welfare and burn victim products. It has been promoting local farmers especially women with main focus on value added products. From the initial phase, it is fully operating on solar power as environment friendliness is high priority. Moreover, three of the young ladies staff working there are being trained so that they become capable to handle all the works there independently and in future, run an enterprise of their own.
Farmers Mart has been trying to tackle with major problems faced by the farmers i.e. no access to proper market and high number of middle men. The suppliers are from Kathmandu and the surrounding hilly regions. They are selected only after field visit and assessment of the quality they claim. The products are bought from them directly. It is still a challenge to bring in seasonal varieties from the hilly regions. In terms of customers, she finds that local people are hesitant to enter into the mart, they assume prices to be higher because of its furnished look. This is probably due to the increasing trend of overly priced tags on organic foods. Also, many often visit only after they are sick and are suggested to have organic food.
The earthquake and blockade led to closure of the mart for months. After resuming, suppliers were reluctant to reduce the hiked price. It has been hard for the mart too to absorb the shock but it still tries to maintain normal price. In future, Farmers Mart plans to extend throughout Nepal and come to the scene.
On account of women entrepreneurship, Shobha Rayamajhi finds the entrepreneurial ecosystem a lot more participatory in terms of gender now. When she started, the government offices were like men’s world but now the women’s visibility is increasing there. Also, it was hard to get business loan for women as collateral was required.
She says, “When you run a company, people come to you for the trust they have in your products”. For her company, she has been trying to maintain supply consistency and price stability. In these many years of experience, she finds the lack of incentives from government. She believes every entrepreneurs require motivation like: tax reduction, rebate for solar system installation prior to the new regulations, etc. And also, to find ethical employees is challenging. She finds women more sincere when it comes to handling financial tasks.
Lastly, for women who want to pursue entrepreneurial path, she suggests them to do it with passion and vision. She asks everyone to identify one’s own skill rather than just imitating the trend. Think small and sustainable for the first few years is another important suggestion she offers.