Women's Co-op Fueled by Empowerment, Ice Cream and Coffee
Bihani Dairy is rapidly gaining popularity in Kopwa village, Kapilvastu District, Nepal. From the collection of milk to the preparation of various dairy products, Bihani runs on womanpower and brilliantly demonstrates female potential.
Established in 2016 with guidance from the Bihani Social Entrepreneur Women's Cooperative, the dairy remains a source of inspiration for many. “In the earlier days we were afraid to take this [profession] up because we didn’t have knowledge [or] experience and feared failing. Now I’m proud of myself to have taken up a new profession," Cooperative Manager Uma Chaudhary said.
What began as a humble collection center gathering about 150 liters of milk locally has expanded to collect 700 liters locally each day. Seventy percent of the daily milk collection is directly bought by Lumbini Dairy in Butwal, and the rest is used to produce other dairy products including ice cream, curd and cottage cheese.
This women-run business has 1,131 small-scale farmer members and earns more than $100,000 annually.
The cooperative also opened a coffee shop where customers can purchase Bihani Dairy's ice cream, curd and cottage cheese. Although coffee is a relatively new beverage in the area, the coffee shop is gaining popularity in Kopwa and surrounding villages.
They continue to prioritize Heifer's Improved Animal and Resource Management cornerstone, and sell meat goats at live-weight, promote and sell various fodder/forage, and animal insurance.
With boosted confidence, Bihani cooperative members set goals to increase milk production and collection to 1,500 liters per day, and to increase the production of other dairy products, especially during festive months when demand is high. Future ambitions also include the purchase of a milk collection vehicle.
Cooperative Secretary Shiva Kala Belbase, said, "If we can provide low interest rate loans to farmers, use innovative technology for dairy production and focus on marketing these products, we can increase our profit to a much higher level.”