Heifer International Nepal

Bringing Work Home: Enterprise Uniting Migrant Labor Families

Children chasing chickens on the front porch and the elderly basking in the winter sun. This is a typical view of a small village in the Hupsekot, Nawalpur district of Nepal where Renuka Gaha lives. What remains hidden in plain sight is the bountiful kitchen garden that she and her husband tend together. This kitchen garden earns her income and keeps the family engaged.

Educated till grade 10 and mother to a son, Renuka is a proud representative of all organic vegetable producers and an active share member of Lekbeshi Social Entrepreneur Women Cooperative (SEWC).

Renuka shares a story similar to countless others in her village. Aspiring for employment to run the household, her husband Dan Bahadur traveled abroad and worked as a migrant labor for more than a decade. Despite all the hardships, he was hardly able to save enough to provide a decent living income for his family. On his wife’s request and much persuasion, he returned home and they both planned to start their own enterprise.

Being a member of a Heifer-led cooperative, Renuka was acquired a loan of 300,000 rupees (about $2,620) from Machhapuchhre Bank as a Catalytic Leverage Fund (CaLF) at no collateral. They utilized the loan amount to buy farm equipment, manure and seedlings to make use of their small land of 2 Katthas (670 sq m.) which was barren for a long time. They also wisely invested in a Tuk Tuk (pictured right) for Dan Bahadur to drive for an income. The couple spends their mornings and evenings tending to their vegetable patch and transport their fresh produce to the market in the Tuk Tuk. With their Tuk Tuk and vegetable business booming, the couple have paid back 70 percent of their loan and are making a steady income of 60 to 70K ($600-700) per month.

Also working as the facilitator of the cooperative, Renuka says, “I have understood the value of work and learnt how to invest in an enterprise.” She is equally overjoyed that her husband no longer has to face terrible work conditions and gets to spend ample time with his family.

“It is better to start small with small profits than work in terrifying conditions, it is better to start something of our own,” Renuka said.

Renuka and Dan Bahadur both understand the increasing demand of vegetables, and are excited to produce off-season vegetables for higher profits. They are aiming to expand their farm and are ecstatic about their progress. Currently, they have already produced 12 quintals of vegetables. Dan Bahdur hopes he never has to return to being a migrant labor. He is happy to support his wife and stay close to his family. He is grateful that this business opportunity has united him to his family.