How you’re helping women artisans set up shop in Nepal

Ethical trading & business, Oxfam Shop, Success stories, Women's rights article written on the 01 Mar 2019

Kathmandu, Nepal: Durga (4th from L), founder and owner of a local weaving business with her employees. Together we're supporting thousands of women like Durga to set up their own businesses in Nepal.

All Oxfam Shops are now closed. We sincerely thank you for your ongoing support, creating real change for people living in poverty. You can continue to shop Oxfam Unwrapped gifts and Oxfam fair coffee online.
– September 2019.

Before our hand-woven bed spreads and throws make their way to the shelf of your nearest Oxfam Shop, they are loomed, dyed and handmade with love by this amazing team of artisans in Nepal.

Durga Maharjan (pictured fourth from left) has been weaving since childhood. But it wasn’t until she connected with our partner Association for Craft Producers (ACP) that she found her knack for business.

Together we're supporting thousands of women to set up their own businesses in Nepal.

Durga’s workshop supplies the beautiful woven cloth that is then screen-printed and sewin into tablecloths made for Oxfam Shop. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/OxfamAUS

ACP offers design, marketing and management support for Nepali artisans — 85% of them women — so they can build their own businesses, making arts and crafts from home. Teaming up with ACP gave Durga the skills and confidence to set up her own workshop at home and teach her sisters how to weave.

“I convinced them that we had to learn,” Durga says, “and that this is our way of earning income … They didn’t know what thread was. I taught them here.”

Durga’s business is a real family affair. She says, “There are nine women that work here with me. All are my relatives, the wives of my brothers. Some are my own sisters, some are my brothers’ wives and some are my cousins’ wives.”

“They are all working well — and I am happy about that.”

Together we're supporting thousands of women to set up their own businesses in Nepal.

Kathmandu, Nepal: A worker at Durga Maharjan’s weaving business. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/OxfamAUS

Durga chose not to get married and describes her freedom to make that choice as very liberating.

“I feel proud that I am able to provide employment to those who didn’t have work.” – Durga, Nepal

“Rather than looking for farm labour work, we can work together and be together. We can share our ups and downs of life, and also work. I am happy with that.”

From their little workshop in Kathmandu, the hardworking team makes beautiful yak blankets that are sold in Oxfam Shops. Durga says, “If it wasn’t for Oxfam, we wouldn’t get this work. So thank you very much for buying.”

“Because of them, we have been able to have two meals a day. Without work, we won’t be able to feed ourselves.”

Together we're supporting thousands of women to set up their own businesses in Nepal.

Together we’re supporting thousands of women like Durga to set up their own businesses in Nepal. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/OxfamAUS

Through our Sustainable Livelihoods Support for Earthquake Affected Families in Nepal, in partnership with the Fair Trade Group Nepal, we’re supporting earthquake-affected women and men to generate sustainable income through promotion of fair trade, improve market access and promote fair trade principles and practices.

Thanks to you, we’re able to support 2700 producers like Durga with the tools and training to set up their own businesses in Nepal.

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