Laxmi Sharma

Laxmi Sharma
Laxmi Sharma 2 (cropped).png
Sharma in 2017.
Born
Kathmandu, Nepal
NationalityNepali
Known forBeing the first women to drive a auto rickshaw.

Laxmi Sharma is a Nepali entrepreneur. She is cred as the first woman to drive an auto-rickshaw and went on to establish the first button factory in Nepal. Sharma was married at a young age, after getting a divorce she worked as a housemaid for sixteen years. Later, she started to drive a rickshaw. Though she was harassed for being a woman driver, she went on to open Laxmi Wood Craft Udhyog, a company that made buttons. The buttons were exported to Germany, Switzerland, Zambia, Denmark and the USA.

Personal life[]

Sharma worked at the royal palace where she had to pick flowers during Puja, after that, she had to clean the room and spent time with the princess.[1] Sharma received about 20 Nepalese rupees a month.[1] After the queen passed away, she had to adjust at home.[1] She said: "It was difficult for me as a kid to adjust to such drastic lifestyle changes—from living in a palace, where people took care of me, to going back home, where I had to learn to cook and clean".[1]

At the age of 13, Sharma got married, with her husband she had three daughters.[2] At an early age she was not ready but she was forced to have a child.[1] She lost her first child as she was "not physically, or mentally, ready to mother a child".[1] She describes the process as "emotionally traumatising".[2] After fourteen years of marriage, they had a divorce because she was being disrespected by him.[2][3] She also didn't want her children to grow in a disrespectful environment.[1] To provide for her children, she worked as a housemaid for about 16 years.[2]

Career[]

In 1981, Sharma bought an auto-rickshaw (Tempo) for about 10,000 Nepalese rupees (approximately US$80 in 2020) which she borrowed from her family members.[2] She also hired a man to operate the tempo.[2] Sharma took training as a mechanic, studying for eight months in Nepal and three months in India.[2] Since she wasn't making any profits from the tempo, she decided to drive the tempo.[2] She drove the Tempo for about four years without a license, unaware that she needed one.[2] She is cred as the first women to drive an auto-rickshaw.[3][2][4][5] Sharma later revealed that she was being insulted and harassed by her community for driving the tempo.[3] She added: "Men harassed her — making sexual innuendos, pulling her hair, even trying to touch her. Sometimes even female passengers refused to pay the fare because, as a woman, she posed no threat".[2] She later started to make 100 rupees a day (US$0.80 in 2020).[2] Furthermore, she bought five tempos.[2]

Two years later, after quitting driving, she opened Laxmi Wood Craft Udhyog, a button factory.[1] It was the first button factory in Nepal.[6] She hired four people to work in the factory.[1] They made the buttons from "bones and horns of animals, particularly buffalos".[1][7] Her buttons were exported to Germany, Switzerland, Zambia, Denmark and the USA.[1] She describes the sales as "they started selling like hot cakes" but not initially she remembers "haranguing tales of physical abuse when having gone to collect fruits of her labor".[8] The buttons are imported by major companies including Ralph Lauren and Zara.[8] The company has made about fifteen thousand designs of buttons.[6] Sharma had spent a lot of time in the library where she taught herself about "European art and craft and the equipment used".[9]

Accolades[]

Year Award Category Result Ref(s)
1999 Title of "The First Female Tempo Driver of Nepal" Honoured [3][10]

References[]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "A true trailblazer". M&S Vmag. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Nepal's First Female Tempo Driver Establishes Reliable Route to Financial Independence". Global Press Journal. 16 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Interview with Laxmi Sharma" (PDF). Liverpool John Moores University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Women On Wheels". The Rising Nepal. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  5. ^ "पहिलो महिला टेम्पो चालक" (PDF). Hot Nepal. p. 22. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Laxmi Wood Craft Udhyog" (PDF). UN Global Compact. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Devis and our women". The Himalayan Times. 2 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Past Highlights #2 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Celebrated at GEW 2014". GENglobal. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  9. ^ "The Curious Case of Laxmi's Buttons". ECS NEPAL. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Guest lecture by Allen Bailochan Tuladhar on 'Entrepreneurship and Steps To Be Successful in Life'". Kathmandu Don Bosco College. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.