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Pragati Embroidery of Madhu Maharjan, Kirtipur

_DSC8777.jpg“My main difficulty is in getting enough workers,” says Madhu Maharjan. She runs Pragati Embroidery with the help of a relative, Anju in Kirtipur, where she presently employs eight persons to do embroidery work on saris and shawls. Her workplace is on the fourth floor of a building in the main market area. “I moved here from my old place five months ago” says Madhu. She’s the outspoken one, Anju, on the other hand, hardly utters a word but keeps smiling to herself, her nimble fingers all the while busy embroidering shiny sequins onto a red woollen shawl.

According to Madhu, they have been in this business for the last four years. The shortage of workers is primarily due to the fact that embroidery is a painstakingly slow process and requires innate talent and a lot of patience. “In fact, the training itself can go up to six months” says Madhu. “And there are not many women who have the required patience.” They embroider about three saris in a week, which as can be imagined, cannot be said to be very productive for a business organization like theirs. Madhu agrees and discloses, “We would love to open our own showroom but there are two constraints: one is that the rents are quite prohibitive in busy areas and second, we just don’t have enough production.” Until now, they have been mostly working to fulfil local orders. However, they consider themselves to be fortunate that nowadays there doesn’t seem to be any particular season as such for their business. “In fact, we get business the whole year round” smiles Madhu.

Their association with BSC began one and a half years ago when BSC selected them as participants in a training course. The benefits that this association has brought to the women include trainings in embroidery as well as in the management aspects of business, including accounting and marketing. Madhu says that she herself learnt the craft in another embroidery shop in Thankot and later set up her own establishment. So how do they expect to grow, in spite of the hurdles in their path? Madhu says that they have provided some samples to export to Mahaguthi – one of the fair-trade organisations in Nepal - in the hope that it can use its networks to find new markets for them abroad. As for the financial aspects of their business, Madhu is of the opinion that co-operatives have been of immense help to their venture and will continue to be as important in the future as well. And what do they look to BSC for now? “Skill enhancement and market linkages” says Madhu.


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