Friday, July 19, 2013

My first article on the newspaper-The Himalayan Times

Youths creating jobs‚ cultivating talents in the country


ANSUBHA MANANDHAR

KATHMANDU: Ask most of the youngsters about their future plans and most likely you’ll get ‘to go abroad’ as the answer. Be it one of those Gulf countries or nations like the US or Australia, all they want to do is get a visa, book a flight ticket and fly off to some foreign land.

But youths like Pankaj Parajuli and Vidhan Rana are bucking this trend. They not only returned home from abroad but started their own ventures.

Parajuli, a civil engineering student from the University of Hong Kong, was offered a job in Hong Kong prior to his arrival here. “But I decided to return to the country knowing there is a lot of potential here,” said the founding member of Institution for Suitable Actions for Prosperity. He is currently helping marginalised communities in Banke sell an indigenous Tharu pickle called ‘Machera’.

Rana, 28, also a foreign returnee and founding member of Biruwa Ventures, on the

other hand, has been mentoring new entrepreneurs for the last two years.

Youths like Parajuli and Rana are new breeds of entrepreneurs who believe in doing something in the country rather than working in foreign lands for a few extra money. And in this process they are creating employment opportunities in the country, where only around 30,000 of the 400,000 people who join the job market every year get absorbed.

Many young Nepalis — both locals and those who have returned from abroad — are trying out their own ideas, according to programmes and operations coordinator at Samriddhi Foundation — a think-tank — Manogya Sharma. “This is praiseworthy,” he said, adding, people who have returned from abroad are bringing in foreign expertise.

Nepal’s economy, as well as the jobs market, has faced some tumultuous years since the beginning of the Maoist-led armed insurgency in 1996. With the beginning of the war which rapidly spread across the country, the business and investment climate deteriorated, triggering an exodus of youths.

Although the Maoists joined the political mainstream in 2006, the incessant flow of Nepalis going abroad for employment has not stopped. In the first 11 months of fiscal year 2012-13 alone, 556,790 Nepalis went abroad for employment, according to the Department of Foreign Employment. The reason — lack of job opportunities. And government statistics lend credence to this reasoning.

The latest economic survey shows the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the gross domestic product falling to 6.2 per cent from around 10 per cent a decade ago. At the same time, the number of cottage and small enterprises dropped to 9,702 in the last fiscal year from 17,722 about seven years back. Since these firms create a significant amount of employment opportunities, their contraction has also affected the jobs market in the country.

But many youngsters feel that blaming certain quarters will not end the predicament. They believe that they themselves must be the catalyst in giving a boost to job creation and cultivating entrepreneurship and talent.

Gaurav Agarwal and Amit Agarwal, fresh graduates from Kathmandu, for instance, have started Narayani College for Professional Studies in Chitwan. The college, which offers BBA and BSCIT courses, has not only created job opportunities for Chitwan locals but raised people’s access to education.

Young females are not far behind in this endeavour and are proving their mettle in the world of business. Nikita Acharya, 20, is one such female, who owns Urban Girl, an online store that sells accessories and dresses.

Shailaja Shrestha, 25, a returnee from New Zealand, on the other hand, has gone a step further and opened a restaurant outside Kathmandu.

“If you understand the market, there are lots of opportunities here in Nepal itself,” Shrestha, the owner of One Square, a restaurant in Butwal, says.

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