Business ideas and Opportunities for women in Nepal

Nepal is a tremendously potent country located in South Asia. Occupying a geographic location that is beautiful, rich and lucrative, Nepal is a great place to commen

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Nepal is a tremendously potent country located in South Asia. Occupying a geographic location that is beautiful, rich and lucrative, Nepal is a great place to commence business, no matter how small. But Nepal’s poverty, political conditions and piling unemployment rate make it tough for Nepali people to start business. The unemployment rate in particular, which literally nears the employment rate, forces many Nepalese men to test their luck outside of Nepal. 

Working Women in Nepal

With men wandering abroad for jobs, women take charge of things. And although women are 51 percent of Nepal’s population which is 27 million, they only form a tiny fraction of entrepreneurs. The number is as less as 0.1 percent, or 30,000 women.

Real Entrepreneurs?

Even this remains to be established whether they are real entrepreneurs that take risk, enjoy independence and have a vision for profits or not as many of them are self employed and only put as much effort so they can meet their household consumption requirements. More than 76% of Nepal’s workforce is deployed in agriculture, but the number crunches to mere thousands when filter of real female entrepreneurs is applied.

Inherent Issues with such Mentality

The problem is clear; lack of clear goals and objectives will only allow the market to constrain self-employed, sustenance seeking women. Such a mentality is less likely to alleviate poverty or empower women. 

Another threat to the country of Nepal is that of underdevelopment, if the necessity entrepreneurship and real entrepreneurship become synonymous. Necessity entrepreneurship will only lead to sustenance whereas actual entrepreneurship in women can lead to economic growth. Even if real entrepreneurship increases, this process would take a long time to display positive results unless the growth rate in female entrepreneurship rises radically.

More so, it has been established that women must have alertness, creativity, ambition and perseverance, to give rise to a success business story; small business opportunities for women will not do alone. 

Top Small Business Opportunities for Women in Nepal

With Nepalese women honing their entrepreneurial skills, they earn a chance to engage in almost any business they like. Following are some of small business opportunities and trades for women in Nepal.

1. Internet Business, e-Commerce and Online Trading

Since a big portion of Nepal has little access or need for technological products, internet is not so common in Nepal. Still, the potential of internet in Nepal is beyond comprehension. Internet and information technology have revolutionized the world and now they can change the way Nepal is developing.

Internet is home to many B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) websites. These websites allow sellers to sell their goods to potential buyers who are searching the online world for best products. Nepal is chief producer of hundreds of primary goods. These goods can be sold to online buyers for increased returns. Online selling will also help Nepali women uncovering a new market, which is bigger, better and more rewarding than their previous markets.

2. Crop Exports

Another concept for Small business opportunities for women loosely related is to export the goods. Nepal’s outstanding geographic location, which sandwiches the country between two colossal economic giants, India and China, opens up doorways for trade in most unimaginable ways. India, for example, love spices and vegetables and Nepal produces just those items. Nepali women have just the right opportunity to expand without bound by exporting their produces to India.

Additionally, Nepalese women can reap substantial profits by selling dozens of their grade-A crops. Some of the items that Nepal produces and Indians prefer are:

  1. Vegetables, including squash, gourds, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, lettuce, cucumber, peas, and tomatoes.
  2. Fruits which include mango, guava, pineapple, litchi, nuts, apple, peach, orange, mandarin, apricot, orange and lime
  3. Spices like turmeric, ginger, turmeric, cardamom
  4. Sugar cane
  5. Vegetable seeds
  6. Oilseeds
  7. Lentils, grams, pigeon pea
  8. Soybean
  9. Maize
  10. Potato
  11. Chili
  12. Rice
  13. Wheat
  14. Legumes
  15. Millet
  16. Barley
  17. Paddy
  18. Eggplants
  19. Crops

3. Metal and Other Exports

Apart from big list of crops, Nepal is also rich in ochre, mica, cobalt, iron, lignite and copper. Though number of women in ore area is not as dominant as it is in crops section, women can still trade other chief products including patina, jute, rattan, bamboo, leather, cements, textiles, carpets and handicrafts.

4. Essential Oils

Nepal produces export quality essential oils, which can boost their income. More importantly, chamomile, lemongrass, mentha and citronella have the power to repel elephants which have been injuring farmers and ruining their crops. Another Small business opportunity for women.

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5. Accessories for Efficient Farming

Gender equality isn’t the only empowerment. In order for the production to yield an optimized output, women must be linked with latest and efficient farming tools. Sprinklers and nutrient sprays are being used in many nations now, and if women can get their hands around that, their output can multiply radically.

6. Social Franchising

Another opportunity for Nepalese women comes in the form of social franchising. Social franchising is about transferring their skills to other women, and creating a chain reaction of women empowerment. This is where women of Nepal can make better profits and lend a hand in strengthening their gender and thus their country.

7. Uniform Making and Dress Repairing

The trend of education in Nepal is growing, more so after the declaration of state. Uniforms are thus becoming common. This market is growing and by establishing a name for them early, women of Nepal can ensure their grip over uniform industry. Women do not need to spend too much, thus bigger profit margins.
Since the ideas discussed relate to Small business opportunities for women in Nepal, Nepalese women failing to gather enough capital for fabric can start by repairing old dresses or by offering tailoring services exclusively.


8. Bags

Bags are items that never lose their demand. Throughout the year, and throughout the country, bags are used for groceries, produces, shopping and dozens of other things. Since bags are always in the demand and cost very little, Nepali women can start making bags to start things off.

9. Basket Weaving

Another related idea for Nepalese women with very little investment is basket weaving. This business shares quite a history with women. The business of basket waving is profitable and with some creativity and imagination, they can be sold for use and for decoration.

10. Customized Jewelry

Nepal is a poverty-stricken nation, but that has not kept Nepalese women from exhibiting their charms. Women like jewelry and Nepali women are no exception to this behavior. Such women provide a chance for she-entrepreneurs to make the most of by producing customized jewelry and offering them at a reasonable price.

11. Tourist Guide

Women with some communication skills can hop into tourism business. Primary or higher education might become a prerequisite in some cases, but all in all, this is a very profitable industry in Nepal because of its valleys, villages and striking sceneries. ‘Souvenirs for tourists’ is another profitable idea.

Barriers to Nepali Women

However the barriers to Small business opportunities for women in Nepal and so, ways to deal with them must be addressed. And there are quite a few of such obstacles that limit Nepalese women to engage in business. They are mostly socio-economic barriers.

Socio-economic Barriers:

  • Lack of education: This is a key cause as no education means deprivation from major sources that foster entrepreneurship. It also means restricted access to trainings, funding and marketing aid.
  • Gender Gap: Nepalese women fares bad in gender gap index because the women have low status and have lesser access to males in education & health, justice and politics. A surprising element is that despite becoming a majority in agriculture sector, women still do not get deed for land, which makes them serve helplessly.

These socio-economic barriers become even more restricting because of Nepal’s poor infrastructure. 

Credit Access:

And then there is another decisive barrier. Not only female, but male entrepreneurs also lack credit access which is essential in starting a business.

Dealing with Barriers

To deal with these barriers, the first thing in the text-book of successful entrepreneur is to develop following traits in their personality:

  • Alertness
  • Ambition
  • Creativity, and
  • Perseverance

Following the skill-development phase are factors that help sort out the extrinsic problems like socio-cultural and socio-economic problems. Nepalese women stand a better chance of attaining a successful entrepreneurial career if these can be made available to them:

  • Access to latest equipment
  • Agricultural training supplies
  • Business training
  • Easy access to necessities of starting a business
  • Husbandry training (cattle and poultry)
  • Literacy classes
  • Micro loans

True, business in Nepal is currently surrounded with all sorts of obstructions. But with these barriers taken care of, Nepali women have a healthier possibility of contributing to their families and Nepal.


Above article was first published in 

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