Meet 5 Inspiring and Enterprising Women of Sikkim

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“It’s hard to be a woman: You must think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl and work like a horse”. This famous quote actually summarizes the success mantra of every woman. Women in India have come a long way from being just a homemakers. They have always been an integral part of society and equal torchbearers as men but yet they are the most ignored part of the society. Today, women have been exploring every avenue and soaring high, making their presence felt in every field be it the world of politics, music, fashion, movies, entertainment or business.

In Sikkim, the women have been enjoying equal status, liberty, and par reverence in every aspect. They have been proving their credibility and credentials in all ways and creating an identity of self-reliance and success.

Here is the list of 5 women entrepreneurs of Sikkim who have been inspiring us with their versatile abilities, creativity, uniqueness, persuasiveness and consistency.

Sonam Choden Bhutia (28) of Gangtok, is a founder of the ‘Taste Bud Sikkim: Homemade Chocolates’. Initially, she had joined the chocolate making training program under the banner of North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi) just for gaining an experience but gradually in the process, she developed an interest. After the completion of the training, she started making up the chocolates in the three rooms of her house. Today, she has employed 10 women from her locality who are supporting her in taking up the venture successfully. Currently, She  is also running a boutique ‘Norla’ at Metro Point, Gangtok where she has been selling her homemade chocolates. She had participated and sold her chocolates products in different events and places viz,  Pang Labsol 2014, TNA fundraising for golden jubilee fun fete 2014, Women of India in Dilli Haat,New Delhi, Winter Carnival Sikkim, 4th International Trade Fair in Nepal, 20th Anniversary of NEDFi Craft Carnival. She has been successful in making up chocolates of 26 flavours which today are liked and loved by many in the state of Sikkim.

Priya Dahal (30)  of Namchi , South Sikkim is the founder of ‘Beautiful Earth’. Launched in April 2016, Beautiful Earth is an entirely self-funded project which involves rural women from different parts of Sikkim  in soap making using natural ingredients. Initially, Priya received  professional training in soap making from Delhi along with her two teammates. Later she returned to Sikkim and convinced other women to join her project and get trained.  At present 23 women of age group from 22 to 48 years are involved with her in the project. The main motive behind the project is to empower women through economic upliftment and make one self-reliant. The soap making centre of the Beautiful Earth is located at Poklok Denchung GPU The project is gaining much support from the people and the panchayat of the concerned areas. She has been selling her natural handmade soaps online and has also been participating in various state level events and exhibition. Currently, the Beautiful Soap is grasping many markets in the state of Sikkim. Beautiful Earth also aims to highlight the rural potential in the global market. Apart from soap making, the team also indulges in a bamboo craft.

Devika Gurung (30) of Gangtok is a founder of ‘Fidgety Fingers’ which was launched in September 2015. Fidgety Fingers is a social entrepreneurship project initiated with an aim to help deprived women (mainly school drop outs, young mothers, and victims of physical and social abuse) become socially and financially empowered. At Fidgety Fingers, women make handmade products and 20 percent of the sale amount from every product go to the women who made the product. It is entirely a self-sponsored project of Devika Gurung, She has been training many women of her locality to knit, craft and crochet. She has also been invited as a resource person in various programmes of Government and Private agencies to train and speak on self-reliant programmes and training and women empowerment. Currently, she is also associated with various projects under the Government of Sikkim. Devika has been successful in creating the market for her handmade products virtually, she is selling her handmade products online which gradually seems to be gaining much popularity. She aims to open up production units in different parts Sikkim and train and employ more women in the project.

Reena Rai (37) from Gangtok is the owner and founder of  ‘Studio MAATO’. She started her journey into the  world of pottery from the year 2007 thereafter she has been creating and designing varieties of pottery wares. After her Bachelors in Arts from Loreto College, Kolkata, she studied Interior Designing at Exteriors Interiors Institute there. After many years of the journey into the pottery world and intensive handwork and training, Reena successfully set up a Studio MAATO at her residence in Sorok-Kitam about 6 Kms from Namchi. Currently, she has employed four support staff, including two women whom she has trained and helps her in the production. Reena also aims to set up another studio at Pakyong, East Sikkim and plans to hold pottery workshops for children and adult to help them understand and promote the art of pottery. Through her works, she also aims to empower women and adults and make them self-reliant. Reena Rai has also participated in various state level and national exhibitions and events. Lately, she presented the “New Shades of MAATO” in the Gangtok Winter Carnival 2016 which was highly appreciated and liked by the public.

Smita Rai from Namchi, South Sikkim is the founder/leader of ‘Namchi Designer Candles’ which is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of NEDFi. The project involves the women of age between 20 to 50 years. Some of them are homemakers while others are unmarried and engaged with certain activities at home and in the surrounding. Initially, Smita Rai made a group of 20 girls from Namchi and underwent a training programme on candle making under the banner of NEDFi at Namchi.  After the completion of the training programme, Smita Rai started making it big with the continuous involvement of only 12 women in the project. The team has also set up an outlet at Namchi and has also been participating in various national and international exhibitions and events. The Namchi Designer Candles makes varieties of candles which are of different colors and are perfumed. They produce general long stick candles, spiral long stick candles, small and big square chips candles, floating candles, wedding candles, Christmas candles, heart candles, lanterns and much more. Currently, Smita Rai and her members are also engaged in making customized candles for corporate houses. The main motive of the project is to empower women and make one independent and self-reliant through economic upliftment.  She has also set up many production unit in the state of Sikkim with the help of NEDFi and training many women. Apart from designing and making candles Smita Rai also runs a resto bar at Namchi  named ‘Flavours Restaurant and Mercury Bar’.

By Yougan Tamang (yougain87@gmail.com)

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