Vidushi Rana, Managing Director at Gold Star, proved herself a successful entrepreneur having revitalized the legacy business she had stepped into almost a decade ago. Gold Star, an esteemed footwear brand established in the 1970s by late Noor Pratap Rana, prides itself in making affordable, durable, and comfortable shoes.
Vidushi appeared as a guest in Desh Sanchar Chautari to share her experiences about the struggle and dedication towards making such a transformation possible.
‘Gold Star had already built goodwill among Nepalese people as comfortable and affordable shoes’ Vidushi says. Availability and competing for other market segments, particularly youth, was the challenge. She started off by opening several stores and designing new styles focused on youth’s fashion choices. ‘Nepalese youths are highly fashion conscious and tend to wear stylish shoes; we are vying to cater to them while remaining strong to our ethos – comfortable, durable, and affordable,’ she illustrates.
‘We have over 300 staff and over 3000 workers, about 70 per cent of whom are women,’ she stresses, ‘women are laborious, honest, and have better craftsmanship. Hiring women also helps in retaining as men outnumber women seeking foreign employment.’
‘We are well equipped to produce world-class shoes. We have decades of experience and technical know-how to produce durable shoes at affordable prices. What we do not have is a policy to elevate the success even further,’ she resents, ‘we are one of the few companies that manufacture domestically, sell locally, as well as export abroad. There is not much recognition from the government to manufacturers like ours.’
She finds healthy competition is always good for any business that aspires for the betterment. But, prevalence of cheap counterfeit products on one side and high interest rate to raise capital on the other definitely puts pressure from both sides, she stated.
Gold Star aims to manufacture shoes aimed towards diverse activities and uses – gym, basketball, badminton, walking, etc. – but current policies that are not conducive to local manufacturing are hindering the ambitions. She opines that trading and manufacturing should be treated differently. Currently, Gold Star is running at less than one-third of its potential manufacturing capacity because of the unfavorable environment.
Policy level address is a must to rejuvenate local production, she asserted. Some of the measures include; single digit interest rate to the manufactures, custom duty in raw materials that is as high as 15 to 30 percent should be reduced. Similarly, ensuring economic zones is mandatory. Due to rigid policy no one paid interest to the economic zone in Bhairahawa- it needs facilitation. The training institution is equally important. If the government provided training and certified the skill, it would be greatly beneficial to both employers and employees. Ultimately, the skill could be useful for anyone vying to go abroad too.
She does not discount that business-politics nexus that has benefitted some interest groups. But not all businesses are the same, and different businesses have different needs. Encouraging and empowering employment generators and genuine tax payers is a must. Effective policies will flourish the right businesses and inhibit the wrong ones.