Rato Guransh SHG member Ms Ramjanaki Soni is in her grocery shop

COVID-19 has caused enormous fear, stigma and suffering in Nepal. Yet despite this, poor communities continue to work towards resilience and transformation within communities.

Ramjanaki and her husband live in a thatch house with their two children. Her husband works at the local metal factory as a daily wage worker, earning enough for the family’s daily needs, while Ramjanaki takes care of the household. Without her husband’s wages, they would find it difficult to provide food for the family and and keep the children in school.

Ramjanaki is a member of the Rato Guransh Self Help Group [SHG] which was established in 2015, by Milap, one of INF Australia’s partner organisation. Ramjanaki says that without Milap’s support she would never have been able to become a member of the SHG, as in the Madhesi culture [regional cultures of peoples living in Nepal’s Terai region which borders India], women are not allowed to participate and be involved in public activities.

Before March 2020, things were going well with her family and the SHG. However due to the spread of Covid-19 in Nepal, “it became hard to survive because [her] husband’s daily wages work closed due to the lockdown and there was no other income source to buy food for the family.”

With only two weeks of food left in the house, Ramjanaki was worried about what would happen next. Thankfully, during this time, the family received 4,000 Nepalese rupees [NRs], or around AUD 48, from a well-wisher to buy food. With the money, they made the decision to start a small business.

“I thought that if we bought food, it will contribute for a month only, but if we invested in the small business it will continue to earn money and support our daily expenses,” Ramjanaki said.

With the 4,000 NRs, Ramjanaki and her family purchased groceries and green vegetables to start their business, but later, thanks to a 15,000 NRs [$180 AUD] loan provided by the SHG, were able to purchase other items to add to the business. Since then they have expanded so that they sell groceries, green vegetables and khaja [snacks] earning approximately 8,000 NRs [$96 AUD] per day. With this new source of income, Ramjanaki believes they will be able to pay back their 15,000 NRs loan and continue to earn enough to support the family.

While Covid-19 has had a profound and negative impact on communities in Nepal, Ramjanaki feels that it also provided an opportunity to invest in a sustainable and long term income source. Ramjanaki and her family are grateful to the person who provided the initial gift, and state that it was thanks to Milap that they were able to get to where they are.

“Milap staff helped guide and support us in starting the business, and provided encouragement during a situation that was causing so much panic.”

You will be redirected to Stripe to process your payment