Nepal is a country that attracts a number of tourists around the world every year with its beautiful nature and exotic culture. Did you know 2020 was a ‘Visit Nepal’ year promoted by the government of Nepal? For the last two years, people in Nepal were preparing for this campaign with the goal to attract 2 million tourists, until they were interrupted by the sudden outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
After the 2015 Nepal earthquake which struck many people’s lives, people slowly managed to move forward and rebuild from the debris of the past. People were hoping that this campaign would bring some economic benefits this year. However, 5 years after the earthquake, they are again facing another risk.
2 Million People Losing Their Jobs
Due to COVID-19
Economic structure in Nepal is unlike any other country; the remittance from the migrant workers and revenue from the tourism industry accounts for almost over 50% of the total GDP. However, as COVID-19 struck the whole economy hopes of 1 million of migrant workers are now broken, and 1,170,000 people in tourism industry lost their jobs.
Despite the grave situation, the government cannot support those people who became unemployed all of a sudden.
As the oversea remittance and foreign tourists dramatically decreased, they are struggling to import necessities such as food and medicine. Moreover, some experts are predicting that, with the current foreign currency holdings, the government of Nepal will be able to import goods that will last for only 8 months from now.
Companies Closing Down
Due to the Lockdown
Government of Nepal were concerned of the spread of the virus as they were not able to quickly respond due to the lack of public health and medical system. Thus, they had no other chance but to execute a nationwide lockdown.
The lockdown lasted for over 70 days, and every restaurant, shop, and company had to be closed. Even some important events like wedding were banned. All means of transportation were vanished from roads, and it seemed like the Nepal’s economy had completely stopped.
Many shops and companies was not able to sustain their economic activities, closing down as a result of not being able to manage the cost such as rent, wages, and loan interests.
COVID-19 has changed everything, and companies in Nepal are facing uncertainty of their survival.
“Our company has been closed for three months. Although the lockdown was eased few days ago, the production facility is still not working because we couldn’t deliver raw materials from other regions. We are highly concerned because we do not have any income, but still have to pay our workers.”
Umesh Lama, CEO of Organic World & Fair Future
“Last month, we built a new rabbit farm as an investment to train and nurture farmers who are interested in rabbit farming. We were planning to start the training for 7 farmers, but two days before the first training, the nationwide lockdown was executed. We feel lost, and disappointed.”
Ujjwal Chapagain, Founder of Himalayan Rabbit Farm
“Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown, weekly Farmer’s Market has been closed eversince. The revenue of the farmer’s has greatly decreased, and savings of the cooperative have plunged. Now farmers are having a hard time as they cannot purchase the seeds they need for the next harvest, and we are witnessing the fall of the rural economy here in Nepal.”
Basanta Baral, CEO of The Bazaar Agriculture Cooperative
Support Social Enterprises
There is still hope even in this difficult situation. What is needed to change the weak economic structure depending on the overseas remittance and tourism is helping them create a solid ground for sustainable self-reliance of the enterprises.
Local social enterprises are taking a difficult road believing there could be a better future.
Now we are launching a crowdfunding campaign with four partners who cooperated with The Bridge in the past, in order to provide relief to those entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Please support with Impact-donation so that they could overcome their challenges!