Sangita Bajracharya is one of the very few woman tour operators of Nepal. Born and raised in Kathmandu, she always had a dream to work with UN agencies or other INGOs. This 27-year-old entrepreneur spent her formative years in Nilkantha Boarding school, Old Baneshwar. She started her career as a teacher in the same school immediately after her SLC.
While doing higher studies, Bajracharya joined Sky Net Trade Pvt Ltd as a company secretary. “I was never interested in abroad studies so I never applied”, she said, adding: “I would love to go to foreign land as a tourist or for business but not for staying there.”
Later, she joined a finance company. However, she left the company soon after she found that the company was misusing depositors’ money. Then joined a travel agency owned by a German citizen. During her two-year stay at the company, Bajracharya knew more about tourism and decided that she would make a career in this sector. Though her responsibility was limited to administration, her interest made her form groups and lead them to different trips. She was motivated with the commission that the company gave to her.
But suddenly her boss, the German citizen, had some health issues and he decided to return home, asking Bajracharya to look for other options. She was again in the same point from where she started. That German sold his business to a Nepali entrepreneur and Sangita was hired again by the Nepali boss. But as her new boss was not as understanding as the German, she left the job enrolled for online MBA program in ICA. Though she left the job, she was still providing agency service to a French couple who had a restaurant in Thamel.
Bajracharya shares that being jobless for three months was frustrating. “When the French couple suggested that she start her own company, I started taking it seriously. I discussed the idea with as many people as possible. Most of them encouraged me, but some doubted because of my young age,” she added.
Though the plan was risky and needed a huge investment, she got support from her family. Finally in September of 2014, her company — Himalayan Namobuddha Travel and Treks – opened to business.
As she was familiar with the work and she also had some past contacts, her business had a smooth sail. “The French couple helped me a lot by sending groups,” she added.
When she had just started receiving good feedbacks, devastating earthquake of 2015 struck the country and everything went haywire. “I lost my contacts after the earthquake. The French couple also returned back to their country as their restaurant suffered severe damage in the earthquake,” she added.
Her business, however, is gradually picking up in recent months.
Bajracharya loves cooking, travelling and watching movies. She is also associated with Rotaract Club as International Service Director. According to her, women are afraid of taking risk and most of the times they are not supported by the family. “This is the reason why we see limited women running a tour company in Nepal,” she said, adding: “I got married recently and I am still struggling to manage house and office smoothly”.
Challenges for Bajracharya have become a part of life. She shares her experience: “Recently, we were charged a penalty of Rs 1,000 by TAAN for being late to renew annual membership. We were levied the fine without prior information.”
“NARA has fixed Rs 2500 per day as rafting fee. I have been selling rafting package at the same rate. But tourists are getting the same for Rs 1,800 or Rs 2,000 from other agents. It’s similar with paragliding,” she added.
Responding to a query on what it inspires her, she said, Nepal itself is an inspiration. “Tourism is a very beautiful sector. It can help Nepal a lot. Every related sector should take it positively,” she said, adding: “Many people are dependent on tourism. They will benefit if tourism prospers.”
Bajracharya shared she has plans to market her company aggressively in the coming season. “I couldn’t do much in 2015 because of the earthquake. My plan is to promote destinations which are not getting tourists despite having immense potentials. Everyone knows Everest and Annapurna. Therefore I want to promote off the beaten trekking routes.”