It wasn't easy for him, so he went abroad to earn for his family, when he thought this would be enough, he was wrong, so he opted to go again. But something did not feel right, he decided to stay, be with his family and work in his country. This is the journey of 35-year-old Top Lal BK who hails from Gulariya municipality, Bardiya.
From a middle class family background with seven members in the family to feed, it was not easy without a steady income. The only source and option of income was through farming. Somehow food was managed and a pair of clothes was worn throughout the year, but education seemed far fetched. It was a time of a belief that 'only son should be educated'. Naturally, Mr BK, among his six sisters, was sent to a government school. He then completed School Leaving Certificate (tenth standard) with good grades. And now he is a sub engineer. But by the time he finished engineering, all the land in his father's name was sold and in 2060 BS he passed away. "My studies finished, but we were left with only a house and a barren land, which made it difficult for us to survive. Thus, to run the household I sought work in Nepalgunj. My mother was alone at home so everyone suggested I get married, and I did. After that it became all the more difficult to run the household with the money I earned. Thus, in 2064 BS I had no option but to go abroad to work." He earned some money from there for three years and returned home. He bought a land, but managing the household was still difficult. "I had no knowledge that the money could have been invested in business instead." Again left with no alternative going abroad became an only option and left for the Capital. This time however, things changed, he had a change of heart, "I thought 'I should stay in Nepal and do something here'." With this he returned home. But this was when he was unemployed.
During this time, he came to know about ELAM/HELVETAS' entreprenuership service. He then took training in entrepreneurship and got an opportunity to work in Bardiya as an Enterprise Service Provider (ESP). "While working here I received knowledge on enterprise development. Due to a study tour on entrepreneurship organised by ELAM I was encouraged to run my own business and started to provide business services to potential entreprnuers. Observing the business possibility I took land on lease and started herbs processing and farming business. The investment required for the enterprise was insufficient and I managed it hardly. I had an enriching experience. Nonetheless, I started looking for expand business in agricultural sector. This is when I took advice from a senior Agriculture Development Officer, Mr Hikmat Kumar Shrestha, and Tek Bahadur Singh, Regional Enterprise Development Officer of Elam/HELVETAS Nepal from Bariya."
Both suggested Mr BK start vegetable farming, a few technologies associated with it, and inspected the land. He informed the land was not suitable for vegetable farming and asked to buy another one. This wasn't possible as he had lost all the money in herbal business. Determined to work on the impossible Mr BK produced grains that were not produced anywhere else. "That year I profited Rs 2,00,000 from vegetable farming and was able to pay the loan. I produced 60 kg mustard from one kattha, and in another kattha 1000 kg cabbage. Just then ELAM in Bardiya organised a training on tissue culture technology of banana plant and shouldered me with the responsibility of managing it." Three people from Bardiya were given training and the farmers started banana farming, however, no one started the work on the nursery. "I saw this as an opportunity and started a banana nursery. In the first year I earned a profit of NRs 1,10,000 and was felicitated with an honor from Agricultural exhibition." During the second year, with ELAM's proposal and facilitation "my enterprise was selected through a competition and I received NRs 31,66,297 to organise Rising Small and Medium Farmers Improvement Programme" (RISMFP) from which he established banana plant nursery shade house. "I also earned a profit of NRs 3,00,000 in the second year, similarly in the third year my profit reached to NRs 4,00,000." At present five people are employed in his enterprise including himself. "So far my loan has reached up to NRs 15 lakh, out of which I have already paid NRs 7 lakh and bought two kattha land. With this I have been able to provide education to my son and daughter in a good school. Also, there is no problem financially sustaining the household."
Top Lal BK, ELAM/Helvetas Enterprise Service Provider and National Entrepreneur Award winner
He is also an enterprise development facilitator and advisor. 1800 micro entrepreneurs were benifited in three years from his business advices and counseling. His income is around NRs 3,50,000 a year. Now, he is president of Prime Minister Agricultral Modernization Programme of Bardia district. Ministry of Labor and Employment of Nepal Government has awarded to Mr. BK from National Entrepreneur Award in 2017 June. Mr BK's situation has definitely changed for the better, but he aims for more.