As the day starts, for many a pit stop at Krishna Pauroti is a given. Some relish the salted biscuits with their morning tea. Others prefer slices of bread and buns with their beverage of choice. Patties and donuts sell out in a few hours. Parents bring their children along to get their birthday cakes adorned with their favourite cartoon characters. For others, it is a routine to stop at the bakery to buy fresh cookies, bread or simply start the day with a cup of coffee.
Krishna Pauroti Bhandar has been attracting loyal customers for decades. Founded by Krishna Bahadur Rajkarnikar 72 years back as a pioneering business; this bakery is still run as a family-run enterprise and carries the values and ethos on which it was built.
The business was handed down to the next generation after the demise of its founder, Krishna, and the fourth son, Ghanashyam Rajkarnikar has been taking care of the business, even now at the age of 82. Ghanashyam is also a renowned writer besides being a successful businessman. Three among his five daughters – Pragya, Shristi and Pooja – as the third generation have joined the business, and today Krishna Pauroti is a brand that people across the country know and value, and is a household name for generations of Nepalis.
This story is about the women involved in the business. From an era when women’s participation in business was rare, Shanta Rajkarnikar, the wife of Ghanashyam, worked equally hard and contributed unfailingly to Krishna Pauroti’s success. “My mother has always been an enthusiast learner. I remember how excited she was to learn English when she was already a mother of four. Age has always been a number to her,” says Pragya, one of her daughters.
Shanta was born to a middle-class Newar family. She was one among eight siblings. Education was not a priority for the girls of the family, yet she completed her intermediate level education. She wanted to become a nurse but marriage and motherhood took precedence. When she was a young bride, her husband was busy setting up the family business and she was often left to herself. She adopted her husband’s dreams for Krishna Pauroti and it became an integral part of her life too. Later, Shanta took the charge of the bakery production. She personally samples all items before sending it out for sales. Her commitment and dedication set a benchmark for the business and also inspired the next generation to work harder.
“Most of our customers are regulars but we get people from far and beyond. The bakery has grown purely through word-of-mouth. People who visited our bakery as children now bring their children to sample our cakes, breads and cookies,” expresses Pooja, the youngest daughter of Shanta.
Back in the factory, Shanta is called Aama by the staff and is the first person they go to if a problem arises.
Talking about her mother, Pragya who started her career as a banker and later decided to join the family business says, “She is a self-motivated woman who has always been very enthusiastic. In her team of production, everyone regards and respects her as their own mother. The staff are like family to her. She spends hours with them always ready to lend an ear to their problems, whether personal or professional”.
Over the years, Shanta has been the binding force in the family across generations. At 70 today, she chooses to make an everyday visit to the factory and works as a vigorous supervisor of Krishna Pauroti Bhandar.
Shanta faces challenges due to the physical labour required in the day-to-day operations of the business. “For us, her health is the priority and fulfilling our customer’s order is equally important for us. Some days are not so easy for her, but with the encouragement and love she receives from her team, family and customers, the next day is always better than the previous one,” says Shristi, the fourth daughter of Shanta.
“She knows what it is to be independent. She has raised five daughters with strong values and commitment. It has been passed down to her grandchildren as well,” Shristi adds with a smile.
Out of her five daughters, today Pragya, Shristi and Pooja lead the Krishna Pauroti Bhandar. The other two, Reena and Deepa are always there to lend a hand or brainstorm ideas whenever the need arises.
Together the women of Krishna Pauroti are working to retain their brand value, deliver high quality products and expand their business. They have six outlets and more are in the pipeline. The strong mother and her daughters are a team and share an incredible bond of trust, respect, love and commitment. Their success is not only the outcome of hard work but a true labour of love.