Women's Arts Entrepreneurship in the Terai Region of Nepal

This early stage, exploratory research is intended to inform emerging debates on entrepreneurship in Nepal, with particular reference to the gender, culture and caste dimensions of these discussions. Based on a growing awareness of the role of arts and culture in women’s livelihoods, the British Council commissioned this research to identify barriers and opportunities for arts, crafts and culture to drive women’s social and economic wellbeing, and to explore the role of the arts in Nepali social cohesion more generally. In recognition of the disparity of opportunity between the people of the Hill and Terai regions, the researchers purposefully designed a programme of study to capture data from entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the Terai, as well as those active in Kathmandu. The researchers aim to highlight current gaps in academic, industry and third sector understanding of entrepreneurship in the Nepali context, and suggest further avenues of research required to address these gaps.

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Authors

Levent Altinay

Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Centre for International Tourism and Events Management Research at Oxford Brookes University, Levent is an experienced mixed methods researcher who has published extensively on entrepreneurship in LMIC contexts. In this study, Levent supervised the research design and write-up phases.

Claire Bunyan

As Business Development Manager at the Centre for International Tourism and Events Management Research at Oxford Brookes University, Claire is responsible for identifying emerging research opportunities and securing support for projects addressing a socio-economic research agenda. Claire led the fieldwork and follow-up funding applications resulting from this project.

Delphine Pawlik

With a background in international development and particular expertise in arts for social change, Delphine leads the British Council’s Culture and Development programmes across the South Asia region. Delphine co-delivered the fieldwork elements of this project and played a central role in participant recruitment.

Key Findings

1. Most Terai women engage in entrepreneurship through a social enterprise; men are more likely to start their own SME;

2. Arts, crafts and cultural exchange provide a vital source of income for Terai women;

3. Arts, crafts and cultural exchange offer improvements to Terai women’s social wellbeing;

4. Gender inequality, lack of business skills and poor social enterprise governance are barriers to Terai women’s engagement with entrepreneurship;

5. Building links with other artisans, targeted training and outreach intervention with male community members are enablers of Terai women’s engagement with entrepreneurship;

6. The arts can foster peaceful social exchange across religious, caste and geographical groups in Nepal.

Aim of Study

» To understand the landscape of women’s entrepreneurship in the Terai region;

» To understand the landscape of arts and culture in the Terai region;

» To understand the potential for arts and culture to provide a medium for peace-building between Hill and Terai peoples;

» To identify opportunities for the development of Terai women’s entrepreneurship;

» To inform the co-design of a potential new, large-scale research project with social enterprise and community stakeholders, with the potential to improve Terai women’s socio-economic wellbeing.

Whilst there are acknowledged limitations to our work, the authors believe these findings to comprise preliminary evidence for a clear need for research and investment in Terai women’s entrepreneurship; moreover, they suggest that the arts hold great potential for delivering improvements in socio-economic wellbeing and conflict resolution in Nepal.

Acknowledgements 

This study was commissioned and funded by the British Council Nepal, and would not have been possible without the support of the following social enterprise, industry and community partners:

 

Claire Burkert (Founder of the JWDC); Sujan Chitrakar (Assistant Prof. of Art and Design, Kathmandu University); Prof. Rajendra Bimal and Kamlesh Thakur (Freelance providers of interpretation and translation); Ashmina Ranjit (Director; NexUs Culture Nepal); Rabi Malla (Director, KOLPA); NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati (Founder, photo.circle); Mohit Maharajan (Head of Operations, Mahaguthi Craft with Conscience); Ayusha Shrestha (Founder, AAMO Nepal); Chitra Bahadur KC (Chair; Fair Trade Group Nepal); Susie Vickery (Craft Consultant); Saroj Mahato and Mahima Singh (Founders, Bikalpa Art Center); Priya Joshi (Director, Maker KT); all study participants from Kathmandu, Janakpur and surrounding villages.