From Agricultural Worker, to a Cafe owner -the long-lasting impact of Skill development trainings- in the Kathmandu Valley
It’s a Sunday morning during monsoons in Lalitpur, a settlement on the outskirts of Kathmandu City and Krishna Debi is preparing Chattamari, fondly called ‘Nepali Pizza’ for some customers who sought refuge in her cafe as it began raining.
Krishna Debi Mahajan, owner of ‘Bala Yomari’ -a small cafe which specialises in Newari Food- started her venture over one and half years ago. A member of Khokana Women Awareness Society (KWAS) for over a decade, she joined the organisation as an agricultural worker and a home-based worker. Today, she is a self-employed Cafe owner!
Hailing from Khokana, Krishna Debi lives with her husband, and two children. Her husband used to sculpt Buddha statues for a living, until the COVID 19 pandemic hit, subsequently, the work dried up. Currently, the earnings from ‘Bala Yomari’ is the sole source of income for the family.
From 2016-2017, Krishna underwent a three-month long ‘Newari and Fast Food Cooking’ training which was organised by KWAS. Khokana Women Awareness Society (KWAS), a member of HomeNet South Asia, is a Community-Based Organisation (CBO) committed to improving the quality of life and empowering local women through skills development, savings and credit programmes, healthcare and other awareness programmes. As a part of the training programme, Krishna Debi also trained at another cafe to learn on-the-job and understand the workings of running a cafe.
To strengthen her skills, two years ago Krishna attended a local literacy program which focused on informal education for home-based workers in the area, as she had never been to school. Soon after, she took out a loan from the KWAS Saving programme —which enables home-based workers in Khokana to save and borrow money— and opened Bala Yomari!
Today, Krishna Debi, manages the cafe kitchen and the finances on her own. Her husband helps her with bringing in the produce, and her family is supportive of the work, but she runs the cafe on her own! Through the earnings from the cafe, she manages to cover rent, and other costs for running the cafe. She has begun to make some profit from it, and applies all the learnings gathered from her experience after working in other cafes. In her words, “I truly enjoy cooking food for customers, and interacting with them!’
To find out more about the work carried out by KWAS : <Link>