Driven young entrepreneur supports her family and community
Prativa is among 400 adolescent girls driven by her newfound vocational skills and insights to become a young entrepreneur and support her family and community.
In the rural heart of the Madhesh Province, a beacon of hope and empowerment emerged from the shadows of adversity. At just 19 years old, Prativa, a bright and determined young woman, defied the odds and transformed her community through her unwavering spirit and entrepreneurial drive.
Prativa’s community, 224 kilometers from the bustling capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, bears the scars of a troubling statistic: home to 5 million child brides, with a staggering 1.3 million marrying before they reach the age of 15. In this remote district, plagued by limited access to education and training, lack of financial resources, and deeply entrenched gender-based discrimination, young women are often forced into early marriages or compelled to migrate in search of better income prospects, leaving their dreams unfulfilled.
In response to this urgent issue, Plan International Nepal launched a transformative initiative, “Child Not Bride,” generously funded by Telethon. This project aimed to shatter the shackles of early marriage by bolstering economic opportunities for young girls and families at high risk. The project supports 400 adolescents and young women from the rural heartlands of Nepal.
These resilient young women embarked on a journey of empowerment, armed with training in vocational skills, entrepreneurship, and work-related competencies. “I was nervous on my first day at training. I had never experienced anything like it before. But I embraced the opportunity to learn both business and life skills,” Prativa shares.
Simultaneously, representatives from 150 businesses and potential workplaces were nurtured and educated on the value of including these young women in their workforce. Furthermore, the project reached out to families and communities, enlightening them about the imperative of supporting their daughters in pursuing dignified employment opportunities.
Prativa, an embodiment of this transformative endeavor, stood at the forefront of change. Her story encapsulates the essence of hope, courage, and ambition. During her training, Prativa was presented with a choice – a choice that would shape her destiny. She pondered the needs of her community and the market dynamics meticulously. “My family, like many others here, used to travel all the way to the Indian border to buy essential food items. They believed it was cheaper, but they never accounted for the costs of transportation and the unpleasant treatment by Indian shopkeepers,” she observed.
The entrepreneurial spirit
Prativa, driven by her newfound skills and insights, decided to set up a grocery shop right in front of her home. Her vision was simple yet profound: to make daily essentials more accessible and affordable for her neighbors. She meticulously designed her business plan and executed her entrepreneurial skills, hoping that her shop would eliminate the need for arduous journeys to distant markets.
But Prativa’s journey was not merely a pursuit of economic independence; it was a lifeline for her family. Her elder sisters had been married off before they reached 18, a fate she had feared for herself. Her father, battling liver cancer, had taken loans from their community for medical treatment. Prativa saw her grocery shop as a means to pay the monthly interest on those loans and cover her father’s mounting medical expenses.
Mastering financial management
“I learned the art of earning, spending, saving, and investing wisely during my training. I understood that this knowledge would contribute to the overall well-being and stability of my family,” she shared. It took time for Prativa to grasp the nuances of financial management, but with unwavering support from her parents, she mastered it. Her father assisted her in meticulous financial record-keeping and daily sales tracking.
A ray of hope
For nearly five months, Prativa’s grocery shop has been a ray of hope in her village. She discovered that meticulous record-keeping was paramount to her success, especially with some customers deferring payments. “Every evening, I sit down with my parents to discuss the day’s sales, sharing all the details, which we meticulously record,” she said. Prativa’s parents have been pillars of support. They procure items from distributors, accompany her to the market when stock runs low, and even make bulk purchases at the Indian border, ensuring that their fellow villagers can access essential goods at fair prices.
A flourishing business
Her mother, bursting with pride, shared, “Within a year, my daughter has blossomed into a responsible businesswoman. We are immensely proud of her. She now talks about profits and savings. This month, she was able to save Rs. 8000.” Prativa’s business has evolved to include hygiene items like soaps, detergents, menstrual pads, shampoo, toothpaste, and brushes. Sales have surged, and she now earns an impressive Rs. 2000 per day.
Her success is not just about financial gains. It’s about the principles she imbibed during her training – values of responsibility, kindness, and respect towards customers. Prativa believes in delivering quality service with a warm smile, which has endeared her to the community.
The challenges persist, though. Prativa faces the relentless heat of her village, which can cause food items to spoil quickly. To overcome this hurdle, she is diligently saving money to purchase a refrigerator to ensure the freshness of her goods.
An inspiration to others
Prativa has become an inspiration in her community. In a remarkably short span, she absorbed vital business and life skills, establishing a thriving enterprise. She passionately encourages her friends to take part in Plan International Nepal’s “Child Not Bride” project, urging them to seize every opportunity that comes their way.
In the story of Prativa, we find not only a young woman who defied the odds but also a testament to the transformative power of education, entrepreneurship, and unwavering determination. Her journey is a symbol of hope for countless others, a reminder that with the right support and determination, dreams can indeed become a reality, and communities can flourish in the light of empowerment.
Skills and work, child marriage, Livelihoods, Vocational training