The nationwide lockdown in Nepal is leading its economy and businesses into troubled waters. Amid the disruption in the business activities due to prolonged shutdown, women entrepreneurs in the Himalayan nation are at the receiving end of the crisis. From tailoring shops to beauty parlours, businesses that employ hundreds of women across sectors of society are shut due to lockdown endangering their survival in the business market. Many women working in the handicraft sectors are facing dire consequences due to unsold inventories and soaring bank loans as a result of a slowdown in trading activities.
According to the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal, there are over 5,000 businesswomen in the country, who are engaged in several micro and small businesses. They have been providing employment to over 50,000 people in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality and handicraft, and other service sectors spread across the country. Furthermore, there are approximately 5 lakh self-employed women entrepreneurs who are running their businesses through their own investments in order to make a living in Nepal.
Speaking to Nepal media, Kamala Shrestha, chairperson of the Women Entrepreneurship Development Committee has stated that they have been in talks with the government to provide financial assistance to the female entrepreneurs affected by the lockdown. Associations such as the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs of Nepal (FWEAN) and Business and Professional Women Nepal (BPWN) have been working to provide assistance and training to women entrepreneurs in the country.
Not only a large number of self-sustained female entrepreneurs, but Nepal also boasts one of the highest women labor force employment at 79% in the world who are affected by the closure of industrial activities in the nation. Shutdowns and restrictions have had severe impact on the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises, with the tourism industry hit the most amid the global health crisis. As per reports, with a $32 billion economy, Nepal has cut its economic growth forecast for the fiscal year ending in mid-July to the lowest in four years.
In order to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal has been under strict lockdown since March 24, which was extended by the government till May 7. As of May 4, the Himalayan nation has 75 Coronavirus confirmed cases, out of whom 16 have recovered from the disease.