Out of School and Making Money

Sep 27, 2010

Usha Gurung demonstrates that you don’t have to go to college to have a good idea.

13 Testing this new great feature! trying out a super long caption in the title hopefully this works

Having just turned 24 and educated only up to the 10th grade, Usha Gurung has already successfully been running three businesses. Usha is a young businesswoman, whose hard work and never-say-die attitude have earned her the success that she enjoys today. She has a clothing store, a b-boy dance institute and a bingo parlor.


Although Usha did want to continue her studies, she changed her mind because her family couldn’t afford it. With resolve in her heart, she vowed to be more successful than the ones who held a degree. As a child, she wanted to become a teacher but circumstances turned her into a businesswoman. She says she was always good at making money. When she was younger, she would sell marbles to her friends to make some money. She was also good at wrestling and even made a few extra rupees defeating boys at wrestling. She does acknowledge though, that she has received enough of an education to give her the literacy she needs to run a business without too much difficulty. Despite her success, she says she does feel sad from time to time, about not having studied further.


Usha started her clothing business with just Rs. 5,000 ($65) given to her by her father. With this money, she bought clothes from the khasa (Chinese market) and sold it to shops in Kathmandu. She was only 14 at the time. With the profit she made, she opened up a small shop in Nayabazaar. As soon as she completed her School Leaving Certificate, Usha had her citizenship certificate and passport made. She wanted to take her business a step further and so decided to go to Bangkok. She arranged for Rs. 2 lakhs ($2,600) and a list of names of places where she could buy clothes.


Nothing is impossible.

Then she headed to Bangkok all alone. Despite being a petite girl, she managed to carry loads and loads of clothes back from her visit to Bangkok.


She then started a wholesale business operating out of her home: buying clothes from Bangkok and selling them to retailers in Kathmandu. Later she opened up a shop at RB Complex.


“I don’t like doing the same business all the time,” Usha explains. “So when I was asked to invest in bingo games, I readily accepted.” She made pamphlets and posters and went around distributing and pasting them herself. Her efforts paid off and gradually the few people who came to play bingo started growing larger and larger. Now Usha is proud to be the first woman to run a bingo parlor in Nepal.




Usha Gurung, shoe business

Usha Gurung


After the success of her bingo venture, she opened up another clothing store, PINK, at the Woodland Complex in Durbar Marg. “I never took the wrong path. I was even ready to sell vegetables to make money. I turned to what I thought will bring me most profit. I utilised all the money I had. I started my business from khasa and now I’m here on the posh streets of Durbar Marg. Nothing is impossible,” says Usha.


On her trips to Thailand, she made friends with Miki, a b-boy dancer. She worked with him to open up a b-boy institute. Together, they brought over a team of trainers from Thailand to train a few people from Nepal to become instructors. To date, some 100 students have trained in this dance form at her institute. As part of a drug prevention activity, her institute also trained 20-25 students for free to promote b-boying as an alternative to drugs and violence. Usha herself had an interest in dance from a very young age. She took part in several cultural shows but never took it up seriously. Now she wants to promote dance as a profession and help those with a passion for it.


As the sole breadwinner of her family, Usha has allowed her parents to retire. She is also a guardian and financier to her two brothers, whom she lives with in Kathmandu. Usha is fulfilling all the responsibilities that traditionally a son is expected to carry out, and she is proud of that fact. Although already an accomplished businesswoman, Usha says aspires to be an established businesswoman. She wants to try different kinds of businesses, decide which one she likes best, then spend the rest of her life doing it. But for now, she is content to try whatever she can. She wants to have fun, and do all that she couldn’t do when she didn’t have the money. She has no intention of settling down right away, and plans to get married only at around 29. She says that having taken care of herself and family so well, she is confident that she will also be able to take care of her husband.


Photo credit: Rishi Amatya


This post was originally published in V.E.N.T. Magazine in July 2010.