Nirmal Quit Job in Kuwait to Start Eco-Friendly Pencil Startup in Nepal

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From the basic start of learning ABCD to the complex drawing of palmar aponeurosis, pencil has always been a fundamental necessity. There are numerous students, artists, carpenters and engineers who use pencils on regular basis to complete their task but only few white hats who actually look at the other sides of using pencil. Nirmal Dahal, the founder of Sagarmatha Pencils Udhyog is one of them who was really conscious about those hundreds of trees being chopped off to meet the demand of pencils in the markets. As a result, he started to make the eco-friendly pencils by reusing the abandoned wastes such as waste papers.

Story Behind Initiation

Mr. Dahal used to work in the stationery department of a reputed bank in Kuwait. He was highly impressed by the pencils made from the recycled paper in that bank which gave him the idea to start his own startup in the home country. So, he started to give a keen observation on the process of making these pencils. He says,” Internet was the biggest plus point because it helped me to research more deeply.” Then he left his job to return his home at Damak, Jhapa in 2017 and launched his small startup after a few months of research. When asked about the reason for naming his industry as Sagarmatha, Nirmal proudly says, “Sagarmatha represents Nepal and I want my pencils to represent Nepal. Hence the name justifies my intention.” His initial investment was around 33 lakhs and around 40 thousand pencils used to be wasted in the initial phase while assuring the quality. Gradually, the quality started to be maintained and now he offers full time jobs to 4 staffs and part time jobs to 10 staffs in the industry.

About Sagarmatha Pencils Udhyog

Nirmal’s main motive was not only to do something in Nepal itself, but was also to launch an industry that is eco-friendly. Sagarmatha Pencils Udhyog produces pencils made out of recycled papers. On an average, 3,000 pencils are produced daily by this small-scale industry. The industry also recycles around 30 tons of waste paper every month. Currently, the produced pencils are sold mostly in the eastern districts of Nepal and in about 25 different stores of Kathmandu.

 

Challenges

The very first challenge for Mr. Dahal was in the wrong delivery of the machines. He had imported the machines from Kuwait to make pencils but instead of getting it delivered in Kolkata, the machine got misplaced. On one hand, he was worried whether the machine with so huge investment will reach Kolkata or not and on the other hand, due to late delivery, the interest rate also got increased. Nirmal was relieved when he got the machine after so many hustle-bustles.

Mentioning about the second problem, Nirmal says “There was already a huge control of Indian brands in Nepalese market because of which, it was really hard for new local products to get the recognitions.” Similarly, about 40 percent of the production process solely rely on manual labor, making the cost of production really high.

Customer Response

Nirmal says that despite of the higher cost against Indian Brands, Sagarmatha Pencils is getting good market because now the customers are more aware about the environmental degradation. It the meantime, there are also encouraging the domestic products by buying these pencils.

Future Plans

At the present time, the industry produces only 2B pencils but Nirmal looks forward to extend his product portfolio in future. He is researching on how to produce pencils from recycled A4 sheets paper. For now, he uses polythene for the outer cover of pencils but wants to utilize wrappers of biscuits and noodles. He is also aiming to recycle 60 tons of paper monthly.

Message to youths

Strongly advocating for the environment, Nirmal says, “We live in the nature and it’s our responsibility to conserve it. Just take an initiation, the impact will follow itself.”

By: Ruby Shah

Startups to support #skills2grow4life

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