With the thought of creating employment to the visually impaired ones like him in the nation, and working for 5 years in a massage clinic in Pokhara, Chiranjeevi Poudel came to Kathmandu to start a massage clinic in Thamel as a franchise of that in Pokhara named ‘Seeing Hands Nepal’ with an initial investment of 8 lakhs. It has now become an exemplary massage clinic, opened and run by visually impaired people.
Explaining about the concept of visually impaired people working as masseurs, Poudel says that the sense of touch is more in blind people. “Though we cannot see, our hands can see and we can perform better through our hands,” he says.
Though we cannot see, our hands can see and we can perform better through our hands.
Initially, he had to go through many challenges as the clinic was new in the market of Kathmandu. He had no idea of marketing and sales and faced many other occasional hurdles that every entrepreneur in Nepal needs to face. Poudel says,”During my early years in 2010, the industry of massage clinics itself used to be taken negatively, as unprofessionalism was rampant, and the name ‘massage’ had a polluted scene in Kathmandu.”
However, amazed by their quality of service, and good reviews by different travel review portals, including TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, their business was up and running since the day one and the business volume increased rapidly.
With the success of the massage clinic in Thamel, they also started another clinic in Lalitpur on September 1, 2014. Now, the clinics serve upto 35 people in a day, 15-18 being a daily average, with 3 types of massage services currently available viz. Remedial Sports Therapy, Swedish Relaxation Massage and Relaxation Foot Massage.
The clinic currently employs 8 masseurs, 3 office assistants and cleaners. They are also conducting trainings to 6 visually impaired persons with a curriculum developed by the Institute of Sports and Remedial Massage (ISRM), UK.
In the year 2012, Seeing Hands Nepal was awarded with the Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award, giving an identity and recognition for the works they have done so far.
The business has a service oriented objective where all the profits, after deducting the fees for the therapists and other operational costs, goes to a reserve fund that is used to open new branches, employing more visually impaired people. They have planned to open two more clinics by the year 2017.
Talking about this business model, Poudel says a situation in his life taught him the necessity to work selflessly. Giving an example of the British couple who came to Nepal in the year 2005 to start the massage clinic in Pokhara, he shares, “If foreigners can come to Nepal and do such works voluntarily, why can’t we also do this to provide an opportunity for those who are like us’visually impaired ones’ who are mostly neglected from the society? Instead of living a sophisticated life, I thus chose to work for visually impaired people like me, contributing whatever small I can.”
Giving suggestions to the physically challenged people in our nation, Poudel says that they have to look for opportunity on their own. “No one is going to give you with rights or any offers. You have to come forward on your own. And, it’s worthless to expect anything from the government in Nepal, that is mostly non-existent,” he says.
An entrepreneur needs to accept the challenges that come on the way, face it and move forward.
Giving the message to youths who wants to be an entrepreneur, Poudel says, “First, you need to have the knowledge and proper vision on what you are planning to do. Find a sector you are skillful and passionately interested in. Success is a lot easier in such situations. But before getting involved in that field and starting anything, develop the required skills first so that you enjoy your work from the day one.” He further mentions that, an entrepreneur needs to accept the challenges that come on the way, face it and move forward.
Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal