Maya Rai, Managing Director at Nepal Knotcraft Centre since 2014 AD. Grown from a family owned handcraft business, started off in 1984 by Ms. Shyam Badan Shrestha; Chairperson of Nepal Knotcraft Centre as well as the founding member of Women Entrepreneur Association of Nepal. Knotcraft contributed to her growing interest in craftwork and gave her a place to explore.
She attended Kathmandu Model College (KMC) earning a Bachelor’s degree in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in 2009 and graduated in 2012. Despite grown as a management student, she quickly grew to dislike it because the education system was too focused on ranking and grade; which didn’t satisfy her hunger for creativity. After majoring in Business Management at KMC, Maya Rai opt for the school of social science and humanities to link new skills and studies; like anthropology, craftwork and soon started her career of Management at Nepal Knotcraft Centre, which was going through a transition phase. She mentions, “I never considered it as a potential career until I took that role and ended up really enjoying and involved in research and documentation, promotion, and conservation of the nation’s diverse living heritage, especially indigenous skills and knowledge. And we work with natural fibers found in Nepal using traditional way of waving things”. Last five years, along with Ms. Shyam Badan, she has explored, shared, learned, and taught craft in different communities. Working with the Asian Heritage Foundation India gave her a chance to explore Nepal and she was able to expand her networks and got to know artisans closely. Years with Asian Heritage changed her life completely and brought her closer to the craft industry.
“Weaving nature into women’s livelihood”. Nepal Knotcraft Centre empowers women economically and socially with their existing skills along with utilizing local resources and natural fibers gifted by nature, which is also supporting nature in other way too which successfully articulates to be a 100% Nepali product. Influenced by Nepal’s natural beauty, the handmade product carries the essence of our rich tradition and culture. Nepal Knotcraft Centre employs about hundreds of women who are socially and economically deprived. Nepal Knotcraft Centre work with women across Nepal to create employment, to support their livelihood and enhance their sense of empowerment and opportunity. She proudly proclaims “Through weaving, my dream has taken a new form that allows me to share my culture, knowledge, and tradition while empowering women around me. I will continue to strive in connecting craft-based narratives to how they are contributing to value chain system while maintaining a sustainable relationship with nature”.
It’s her continued love for learning that has helped her be successful in every evolving career path, which goes all the way back to her KMC days.
Picture: Woven products by Nepali Women with Nepal Knotcraft Centre
She voices: “My memories of KMC are of learning, experiencing a different lifestyle and developing new friendship which has been my best 4-year experience. KMC really matured me as a person and helped me to develop my personality, I am very fun-loving person and I used to organize picnics and tours during college days and we’re all driven, hardworking folks who really like to have fun”
Her advice to KMC students is “life is tough but trust in yourself and be positive. Follow the path and passion that you truly love to do and have courage and a lot of commitment, where you enjoy to the fullest. Being different is a good thing. Embrace it and focus on yourself”.