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Jas Maya wins Social Entrepreneurship Award

Kathmandu 18 December 2012 - Jas Maya Pun, a micro-entrepreneur from Salija Village Development Committee ward no. 7 Salija, Parbat district, won the Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award (SNASEA) 2012. The SNASEA 2012 carries a purse of Rs 100,000 and a certificate

She bagged the award for her contribution to the society as a social entrepreneur. Jas Maya, a just literate poor woman from a rural part of Parbat district, has struggled hard to be an entrepreneur herself and to improve the lot of fellow women.

Selected through tough competition from among 84 applicants, Jas Maya was given the award during a ceremony organized to pay respect to the "Hidden Heroes" in Kathmandu. Ms Luna Shrestha Thakur, Founder Director of ChangeFusion Nepal, the organizer of the award, gave her a certificate during the function.

After winning the award, an elated Jas Maya said that it was quite unexpected for her to win the award. "I had not even imagined that I would get the award. All the 15 finalists except me were educated whereas I was not even used to speaking in the public. They (the organizer) must have recognized my struggle and awarded me," she said.

"The credit of my being successful in winning the covetous award goes to Micro-enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) which introduced me to the world of enterprise by giving training and providing necessary supporting," she said.

Ms Jas Maya Pun (right), the winner of Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012, receives the certificate from Ms Luna Shrestha Thakur, Founder Director of ChangeFusion Nepal, the organizer of the award during a ceremony held in Kathmandu on 18 December 2012. .

Her statement is an affidavit of her poverty in the past. She used to work as a daily wage earner to sustain her life after marriage. Her life took a new turn after MEDEP, UNDP provided her a six-month long training in 1999 in Allo (Himalayan stinging nettle) bark collection, processing, yearn-making and weaving clothes.

Born to a poor Magar family in 1980, Jas Maya started her enterprise in May 2000 by collecting the bark, processing them, making yarn and weaving Allo cloth. She saved some money from the daily allowance given to her during the six-month training, borrowed Rs 15,000 from a local mothers' group and started her enterprise with Rs 20,000.

MEDEP provided her with looms, spinners, press machine, and a two-month refreshers' training in order to make her an entrepreneur. MEDEP also organized an exposure visit to different places in Kathmandu for her in 2000. At the beginning, she knitted caps, bags and wove cloth.

Little over a decade down the lane, Jas Maya now produces shawls, ladies and gents bags, computer bags, mufflers, ladies and gents purses, caps, coats, waist coats, tops, kurtha, gloves, socks, sandles and Allo cloths.

Ms Jas Maya Pun, (fifth from right) holding a certificate and a bouquet, poses for a group photograph with Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) staff on the premises of MEDEP office at Dhobighat after she was facilitated by Dr Lakshman Pun, National Programme Manager of MEDEP on 19 December 2012, the day after she won the Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012.

Eleven women work in her Hampaal Allo tatha Kapada Bunai Udyog and she buys goods from 25 other women from her neighbourhood. She is supporting a large number of women indirectly. Currently she has been training six poor women in her Allo enterprise.  

Jas Maya now has gained a new height. She is not only an Allo entrepreneur, but also a trainer. She normally earns Rs 21,500 from a training package and manages at least three such training in a year while her income from the enterprise hovers around Rs 12,000-15,000 a month.

A woman who suffered from penury a decade ago has now become able to pay off debt, buy two pieces of land worth Rs 640,000, spend Rs 90,000 for her husband's job search abroad, replace a hut with a corrugated sheet-roofed house, send her daughter to a private school spending at least Rs 50,000 annually on her education and lives a better life now.

Besides her increasing earning, she has also cultivated a habit of saving money. She regularly saves Rs 50 per month at a cooperative and has an account at a local bank in which she has deposited more than Rs 20,000.

A non-entity till a few years ago, Jas Maya is a person with social standing now. The rising awareness and growing entrepreneurship has made her known in the village, surrounding districts, and her winning of the national award has made Jas Maya a national hero. People who were reluctant lending her a paltry amount of money in the past have now begun borrowing from her.

Jas Maya is a member of the Nepal Allo Producers' Association, the apex body of Allo entrepreneurs, and the treasurer of District Micro-entrepreneurs' Group Association of Parbat.  

Jas Maya said that she would utilize the award money in enhancing the enterprise by buying a boiling and carding machine. "This amount is not enough to buy the machine, but it would be a great help and we seek more financial support from MEDEP," she added. 

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