Sita is a serial social entrepreneur based in Chitwan – her focus has always been on helping women into business. She believes that entrepreneurship is the most effective way for rural women in Nepal to get economic power.
She originally started by establishing a women’s microfinance co-operative, running women’s leadership activities through a community library and a setting up a shop selling handicrafts made by local women in her home town. In 2010, Sita started selling solar products in partnership with Empower Generation. Her business has now grown into an extensive last mile distribution network of 270+ female sales agents and entrepreneurs selling products in rural districts across Nepal. To date, her network has sold 56,000 solar lamps bringing light to households without electricity. As a co-founder of Empower Generation, Sita and co-Founder Anya Cherneff received the International Ashden Award 2017 for Clean Energy for Women and Girls supported by UKAID on behalf of Empower Generation. Sita is now a specialist in the sector and has been an evaluator of the Energia program in Nepal, assessing the productive use of energy in households and the impact on women.
In 2016, Sita was selected to join the DFID funded SPRING Accelerator program that supports businesses to innovate products for adolescent girls. Sita is now expanding her range to include health and hygiene products, agriculture inputs and domestic appliances such as clean cookstoves and water filters that will save women and girls time and keep them healthy.
Alongside the normal business challenges of staff retention, red tape and bureaucracy, entrepreneurs in Nepal face unexpected challenges in a very unpredictable environment. In 2015, two massive earthquakes stopped normal business operations as Sita focused on serving affected communities with relief packages. This was swiftly followed by a six month economic blockade where her products sat at the border with India and a nationwide lack of fuel made distribution of domestic products impossible. The recent devastating floods in Nepal interrupted business for two months. However Sita is relentlessly resilient in the face of continuous obstacles.