– March 21 2019
Running a family business in Nepal
Sumitra laughs and cheers as her son Aadish* performs a Bollywood dance routine in her small store in Malpi, Nepal.
As she claps in time to the music, her daughter Nimali*, who has just returned home from school, joins in.
These are happy times in the Khatri household. The family business is thriving, and the children are doing well at school. Four years ago, the situation was very different.
Sumitra, now 28, got married at the age of 16. The happy life she shared with her two children, husband and his mother in a rural neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kathmandu was cut short when he suddenly died.
“Even during these difficult times, I worked very hard,” says Sumitra, who found work as a day labourer on a farm. Nevertheless, she still struggled to cover the daily living costs for her family. “The main challenge for me was to continue the education of my children,” she says.
Hoping to find support, she went to the Social Centre at the SOS Children’s Village in Kavre.
She was introduced to the SOS family strengthening programme that helps vulnerable families to start small-scale businesses and get educational support for their children.
“The aim of the programme is that they eventually live independently,” says Prakash Aryal, the Family Strengthening Programme Coordinator at the SOS Social Centre. “Some families run farms, others have shops. Some also receive schoolbooks and stationary, food and warm clothing.”
Sumitra told the SOS team she was interested in opening a store, and she received the necessary support to do this.
Through the programme, Sumitra’s children are able to attend school, and she has expanded her business and now serves meals.
“I’m now able to save part of my monthly earnings and can finance my household,” she says.
Twelve-year-old Nimali also helps Sumitra in the shop in her free time. “If my mother isn’t in the shop, I sell things to the customers,” she says.
Her brother, age 9, prefers to read when he comes back from school: “I want to become a doctor,” says Aadish.
*Name changed for privacy protection
Main photo: Sumitra in her shop. Photographer: Lydia Mantler.