By Smita Adhikari
Pokhara, Sept. 24: Woman entrepreneurs of Pokhara are now worried after a large amount of handicrafts they produced remain unsold due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In Pokhara, the handicrafts produced out of the skill of thousands of women have been stocked almost for a year.
The arrival of tourists has tumbled in Pokhara since last year due to dengue outbreak for the first two months and later the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many handicraft items have remained stuck in their warehouse.
“Now we are more worried because the products are already outdated, causing a huge loss of our investment,” Ramkali Khadka, one of the well settled entrepreneurs of Pokhara, said explaining that the designs were made according to the demand and trend of that time.
“People’s sense of taste changes over time and we are worried that our products will never get sold. And there are no foreigners to buy our products,” she added.
Khadka, who is the proprietor of Women Skill Development Centre Kaski, said last year her company had produced handicrafts worth Rs. 6 million.
“All the products are stuck in warehouse now and they are in a sorry state. These products may get discoloured in lack of proper care.”
Like Khadka, Hira Bhattarai, founder of the Padmawati Handicraft Industry, has a similar story to share.
According to Bhattarai, their production worth Rs. 2 million lies piled up since the first lockdown imposed on March 24.
“Around 200 local women entrepreneurs have been involved in handicraft production,” said Bhattarai.
She is worried not just because these handicrafts remain unsold but hundreds of women who had been making money out of this have lost their source of income.
“This pandemic has a chain of impact. All those involved in the production of handcraft and their distribution are now jobless,” said Bhattarai.
She said they were compelled to lay off 30 full-timer women employees.
Pampha Thapa, owner of Santoshi Mata Handicraft Industry located in Lakeside Pokhara, said she had incurred a loss of Rs. 3 million this year.
However, she is hopeful that half of the loss would be recovered if the COVID-19 crisis subsided and tourists started arriving in the lake city.
The market of handicrafts in Pokhara is fully dependent on foreign tourists.
According to Kaski Pokhara Handicrafts Association, almost 80 per cent customers of handicraft products are foreign tourists.
Chair of the Association Hira Bhattarai said 51 handicraft industries have been running in Pokhara 50 per cent of which are owned by women.
By Smita Adhikari