Thursday, April 3, 2014

One of the highlights of my trip included a visit with Shyam Badan Shresthra, the managing director of the Nepal Knotcraft Centre.  As a teacher, she was very interested in handcrafts.  She began this company in 1984, with two other people.  In the beginning, they were making and selling macrame items, but gradually started making baskets.
A traditional Nepali basket is coiled, has many color changes, and takes a long time to make.
Shrethra's goal was to employ Nepali village women so that they could earn their own incomes, increase their educations, and support their families.  She came up with some other designs that weren't so time consuming, and thus more marketable.

 About one hundred women make baskets and other items for sale. One of their retail outlets is "Ten Thousand Villages."

Shresthra has researched Nepalese basketry fibers.  The baskets from the Knotcraft Centre are all made with local materials. So far, she has found at least 42 plants for basket weaving. Here are some bamboo baskets.
Other items include pillows, stools, mats, purses, loom woven mats and lamp covers, corn husk angels, and more.  I saw items made from papyrus, water hyacinth cord, rush, banana fiber, palm leaves, and many other plants that I was not familiar with.

Shyam Badan Shresthra is an amazing businesswoman with strong social and environmental consciousness.  Developing this business has not been an easy journey.  There have been many ups and downs through the years, but she has weathered them all.  I believe that she is an inspirational figure to all. 

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