Taking Mithila culture to the world through handicrafts!

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Most of the handicrafts we come across in Nepal come from the roots of diverse ethnicity, culture, religion, and traditions we have, and Mithila is one of them. With the objective to modernize the Mithila art and incorporate it into various products, Rakesh Prasad Chaudhary, a media person and journalist, Jitendra Paswan, a social activist, and Roksana Begum who works for Muslim women empowerment came up with “Grass Handicraft”. Find more about their start up in this interview with Mr. Rakesh Prasad Chaudhary.

How did you come up with the concept for Grass Handicrafts?
This is an idea that came from my own home. I grew up seeing my grandma basking in the sun during winters and making various kinds of handicraft items with Mithila prints. Making baskets and carpets using different grasses available abundantly around us is a common leisure time activity for women in our community. These products are then either used as decoration items or given as gifts to relatives. You cannot find these products commercially. We found this aspect very fascinating, so we started researching for market potential of these products. Once we were convinced that they have a market we decided to start our company Grass handicrafts.

What kinds of products can you make?
There are various products like basket, pen holders, mats, carpets that can be made from grass. We have identified various women who are already making these items and with their help, we plan to hold our first exhibition very soon.

Who are your target customers?
For now, our target customers are people living in Kathmandu.  We also plan to sell our product abroad as we find them appreciating handicrafts. We can’t start exporting right away so we will start out by supplying to our own friends who are living abroad as they have shown so much support for our products.

How do you plan to market your products?
I think social media marketing will work the best for the initial phase.  We will post pictures and prices of all the products on Facebook. Currently we are focusing on the exhibition so we will start our online promotion once we are done with it

What social problem are you trying to address with your venture?
Well, the obvious social aspect would be the protection and promotion of Mithila culture. Integrating Mithila art in various products that has the potential to go international helps that cause. In addition to that, we are also trying to reduce gender inequality by empowering women. Many women in our community are already involved in this work and if they could earn with it, it would give them financial independence and respect in the society.

Do you foresee any challenges for your business?
Finding investment to grow this business and managing logistics would be our greatest challenge. Our second challenge would be managing the supply chain. Women who are making the handicrafts products live in diverse areas and spread out. It will be difficult to collect and then dispatch these products against customer orders.

You can reach Rakesh Prasad Chaudhary at chaudhary1rakesh@gmail.com.

Interviewed by Shivila G.C. and Edited by Jasmin Karmacharya