Magar DaikoPanipuri and Chatpatey is a successful story of a mom and pop store selling spicy snacks and tangy drinks. At first glance, selling panipuri and chatpatey may seem an insignificant business, however, the success story of Magar Dai's mom and pop store reflects how a small business, with a little capital investment, can lift a family out of poverty and provide a means for decent living.
Magar Dai's shop is located on the road from Patan Hospital to Mahalaxmisthan in Lalitpur. Their target customers include school-age and college students. Traditionally, the Magar ethnic group, coming from the hill districts of Nepal, join the army for a living. In the early 19th century, when Britain started recruiting Nepali people into the army, the Magar ethnic people were their first choice. Magar Dai also had his first career in the army, however, after serving in the army for 18 years, he retired in 2008. His paltry retirement benefit of Rs 6000 ($60) monthly was not enough to sustain a family of four, therefore, he had to look for an alternative source of income.One opportunity Magar Dai saw was to sell panipuri and chatpatey. These snacks are sold mostly by the people who hail from the Southern plains of Nepal and migrant workers from India. Because of this, it was unconventional for Magar Dai to pursue this business, but he said “It’s important to take risks. There’s a need for innovation as well." One challenge Magar Dai faced was starting this business with as little capital as possible. He spent around Nepali Rs2000 (about $20) to set up his business. He invested the capital in buying a tri-cycle pushcart and raw materials to make spicy snacks, and then he waited for his customers at the roadside near Patan Hospital. He designed a cost-effective business model, starting business at the roadside, avoiding expensive rental charges in the city. As he describes, “Business on the carts".
Originally from Sindhupalchok, Magar and his family migrated to Kathmandu after his recruitment into the Nepalese Army, and he lived in Lalitpur, near Patan Hospital, ever since. There is a heavy flow of people in this area because of its location nearby key infrastructure. Magar saw plenty of street vendors selling fruits, vegetables, etc, around Patan Hospital, but he saw the lack of “Panipuri and Chatpatey” as a missed opportunity. He knew that Street snacks like ‘pani puri’ and ‘chatpatey’ are highly popular in the Kathmandu Valley after seeing his children crave it. Despite the demand from school kids, many still do not feel comfortable selling ‘pani puri’ and ‘chatpate’ on the street. They consider the business of selling spicy snacks less dignified than say, working in an office. Magar knew no work can be tagged as less dignified as long as it provides enough returns to sustain and improve your life. With a little effort, courage, and creativity Magar set out to start his business. Magar’s story is testimony to the fact a small enterprise can bring enough money for living a decent life.
Magar Dai’s business relates to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #1 No Poverty, #4 Quality Education, #5 Gender Equality, and #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth. The business has a huge impact on Magar and his family by proving a regular source of income. If not for this business, it was likely he would remain unemployed after retirement from the army. His wife too supports him in his business. There’s a mutual respect and business collaboration between them. Both husband and wife look after household chores and the business. With a successful business, the lifestyle of Magar family has also changed drastically. His business earns enough to feed his family and afford tuition fees for two children. His daughter, Ranjana Thapa Magar is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree and his son, Manish Thapa Magar is enrolled in the 11th grade. "I am proud of my parents’ hard work. I try to help them with their work when I get free, but they wouldn't allow me to work. I won't let my parent’s hard work to go in vain, I am determined to do well in my education”, shared Ranjana Thapa Magar. Although the work of selling snacks all day along is hard work, Magar enjoys the financial benefits from self-employment. An additional benefit is his sense of pride and self-fulfillment. "The lessons I have learned and the pure sense of self-fulfillment have trumped all fleeting fears or failures. It’s been a journey truly worth carrying”, says Magar.
Low barriers to entry, limited start-up costs, and flexible working hours are some of the business benefits Magar enjoys from street vending. Magar Dai earns Rs6000 to Rs7000 ($60 to $70) daily from serving 300 to 400 customers. With increased flow of customers, by 2014, he has already shifted from a push-cart business to owning a humble store near a local school. He has also expanded his business as a wholesaler of puffed rice, crispy puri, and spices required to prepare panipuri. He also sees further space to grow and improve his business. He believes this business will help his children to complete their education and pave the way for an improved quality of life.
Social and environmental benefit
Magar uses Pani (Mineral Water) from AQUA Minerals Nepal Pvt. Ltd in the Puri. This is the first established mineral water plant in Kathmandu with captive bottle and cap manufacturing using state-of-the-art- technology. It guarantees pure and safe drinking water. In addition, pani puri is served using no plastic materials to help protect the environment. Magar also recycles newspapers and other used papers. The economical cost and serving sizes also help limit food waste. The professional wholesaler of puri maker uses ingredients which are healthy including four different kinds of flour. Such healthy products are good for reducing the problems of obesity. There are three ingredients in preparing pani puri. The pani is a mixture of coriander and mint leaves, with some ginger mixed in, along with green chilli, tamarind, jaggery, chaat masala and black salt. This mixture helps digestion. Eating the right proportion of pani puri can have a positive impact on health. However, the noteworthy point is that the venture of selling pani puri requires extremely less capital investment, and is currently popular because of the habit of youngsters eating out.
Author Pravash Rai (Mr. Rai is currently serving Rolling Plans Private Limited as a Senior Officer-HR Services) Note: This business story originally appeared in www.aim2flourish.com