humble beginnings to a humble man:STORY OF THE MAN BEHIND SHIWAKOTI BAGS
The man is as humble as his beginnings. From working as a helper at the age of 11 to manufacturing bags for the Nepal Army, government agencies, corporate houses and organizations, Khadanand Shiwakoti of Shiwakoti Bag Udhyog has a rags-to-riches success story that is nothing but inspirational.
Entrepreneur Khadanand Shiwakoti, 32, is a common Nepali man, who despite unimaginable hardship and struggle in life, persevered to co-found Shiwakoti Bag Udhyog – now a promising venture ready to scale up. Within a period of 13 years, Shiwakoti has increased his production capacity multi-fold and now supplies products to an ever-increasing base of customers. His story reiterates how skills, hard work, life lessons and optimism are the core, not options, to achieve one’s goals.
Financial problems in his village in Dolakha left Shiwakoti with little option but to work as a domestic helper in Kathmandu. “I was just 11 then,” recalls the father of two. “I really wasn’t ready to work anywhere, but times were such.” It so happened that the owner of the house ran a bag manufacturing company in New Road. At 15, Shiwakoti started his job in the factory in sewing and packaging, and would later be joined by his brother Sudharshan Shiwakoti, his future business partner. For the next two years, the duo worked for a meager monthly salary of Rs 1000, working long hours in a less-than-conducive work environment.
Despite his outstanding performance and efforts, he felt disappointed that all requests for a raise were coldly shrugged off by the owner. His salary would not support their family back in Dolakha, which compelled the brothers to quit their job at the bag factory in search of better opportunities. “By this time we had enough knowledge and expertise in manufacturing bags,” says Shiwakoti. “So we thought working in this industry would make most sense.” This, as Shiwakoti modestly points out, would turn out to be a strategic decision leading to the success of their venture.
Upon leaving the company, the brothers started selling wholesale bags in the streets of Kathmandu and as far as Jiri, near their hometown. The income generated from this endeavor was more lucrative and allowed them to save some money too. While selling bags, they met with several bag dealers who saw their commitment and drive to succeed. One company in particular pledged to support them by making bulk purchase if they manufactured their own. This moral support gave them newfound confidence to start their own business.
Combining their manufacturing and marketing skills, at the early ages of 19 and 22, the Shiwakoti brothers went on to found Shiwakoti Bag Udhyog in early 2000 with Rs 50,000 they had saved up. Most of the seed capital was spent in procuring sewing machines, scissors, rolls of fabrics and paying the rent for a small apartment in Bagbazaar. They hired two staff who handled most of the operations while the Shiwakotis looked after marketing and manufacturing. When their production finally started, they had only a few thousand rupees to spare.
Turnover was fairly quick as they began selling their products in the market, and were quite pleased to know that the customers and retailers received them well. They reinvested profits for the company’s growth. Today, Shiwakoti’s team of 7 staff at Koteshwar’s factory can produce up to a hundred bags each day – four folds more than his manufacturing capacity since he started his business 13 years ago. Although Kathmandu is currently his largest market, he plans to soon hire more staff and expand to other parts of the country, for which he receives entrepreneurial trainings as a part of the Business Incubation Program facilitated by the Department of Cottage and Small Industries.
Shiwakoti has come a long way, since his childhood spent at his saau’s home to purchasing his residence at Kosteswar with the profits he made. He reminiscences of old days. “If I had gotten that raise, perhaps my life would have taken a different turn entirely. I’d probably be working for somebody else right now. But I had a dream and I pursued it with passion. There will be ups and downs, but you have to be positive and learn from your mistakes.”
Shiwakoti Bag Udhyog is an exemplary success story of two brothers whose passion, collaboration and positive outlook helped them overcome rough waters. As the company prepares to scale up and expand its productions, Shiwakoti remains confident that he will be able to compete with established brands in the country. Gauging from his entrepreneurial spirit and current growth, that day will not be too far.
The man is as humble as his beginnings. From working as a helper at the age of 11 to manufacturing bags for the NepalArmy, government agencies, corporate houses and organizations, Khadanand Shiwakoti of Shiwakoti Bag Udhyog has a rags-toriches success story that is nothing but inspirational.