Uma Sedhai hails from Morang. Affiliated with Aaprabasi Mahila Kamdar Samuha (AMKAS), Morang, Sedhai has a small grocery store at her own home. Prior to this, Sedhai worked as a caregiver in Israel from 2062 B.S to 2067 B.S for five years before returning back to Nepal. In Nepal, she started teaching the Hebrew Language for foreign employment aspirants at the local level and the neighboring districts. After this, she invested in her own store she started at home, where she works to date. Her husband is also self-employed and both of them work together to sustain their family of four. Their yearly income ranges between NRs.1,20,000-4,00,000 through which they manage to cover all their expenses and ensure some savings for contingencies.
Prior to COVID-19, Sedhai had been able to run her store locally. Although she had limited access to resources, she had her networks, and her own customers through which her business was running smoothly. However, with the outbreak of the virus, her business has not been able to fetch money like it used to. This severely impacted the livelihood of the Sedhai family. Her husband also faced similar fate of not getting enough demand for his work to make an income.
Now, suddenly the outbreak of the virus emphasized on social distancing with physical contact decreasing gradually, and, for a small entrepreneur like Sedhai whose business depended on the local network, COVID-19 jeopardized her only source of income. In such a state, the only thing that Sedhai could do was wait for the state to loosen up the economic activities so that her business could start operating like before.
In all this, Sedhai as the lead of AMKAS Morang, was contacted by FWEAN for selection of participants for an online project being implemented to empower women entrepreneurs during COVID-19. The need for digital literacy had been evident in her life as she had to rely on her family members for digital activities such as email account creation and use; even though she had her own email address, she rarely accessed it. Although she had some knowledge regarding the digital world, it was limited. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no need for her to be well versed about this. For example, she has a Facebook account which was created with her children’s support.
After getting shortlisted for the trainings to be provided by FWEAN, Sedhai took a 2 day Online Digital Literacy training via Zoom. In the training, Sedhai was taught about accessing internet browsers, creating email accounts and sending emails, using google forms, using the Zoom App, scheduling and hosting meetings via Zoom, Facebook account creation and group formation, Viber account creation, and so on. Now, after the training, Sedhai can not only create a personal account of her own, but can also send emails, host Zoom meetings, and can use Facebook group to promote her business. Sedhai today can be reached at her own email address: [email protected].
She also participated in the Holistic Wellbeing activity provided by The Art of Living Foundation (AoLF) Nepal team as a part of the project activity. She has been a regular attendee in the follow up sessions hosted by the AoLF team every Saturday. This shows her dedication towards self-empowerment. Her active participation was evident during the training on Financial Literacy. Today, she possesses knowledge regarding Women Entrepreneurs Development Fund, as well as the documentations, and the processes involved in accessing subsidized loans. Additionally, she has been able to use Khalti App for her day to day chores ranging from mobile recharge to utility payment.
Sedhai from Morang is thus a true example of the saying, “You are never too old to learn” and it is truly evident in her case.