At a time when Nepali investors are taking their money out of the country, and new investors are scared away by power cuts and militant unions, one family-run company has stuck steadfastly to its core business.
It is Himal Iron and Steel, founded as far back as 1961 by Maniharsha Jyoti in Parwanipur of Parsa district. The factory transformed the once-sleepy town and laid the foundation of the new industrial belt between Hetauda and Birganj. It created 450 jobs and benefited tens of thousands in downstream industries. In fact, Himal Iron and Steel was a pioneer private sector venture in this field, and showed the visionary outlook of its founder.
Today, 50 years later, the factory is part of a large industrial conglomerate run by family patriarach Maniharsha Jyoti's sons, Padma and Roop as well as grandson, Saurabh. Maniharsha Jyoti worked in a mining company in India that was a supplier to the Steel Authority of India. But he returned to Nepal to contribute to nation-building at a time when there was a lot of optimism about Nepal's industrial development.
The elder Jyoti understood that iron and steel were the backbone of a country's economy, but he had to counter a lot of nay-sayers who saw no future in the industry at a time when most Nepali homes were still not using ferrocement construction.
Himal Iron and Steel has constantly tried to keep pace with modern technology, investing in new equipment and expanding production. The quality of steel is even more important in a country like Nepal which is in a seismically active zone.
"Since the inception of Himal Steel we have never compromised on quality," says Maniharsha Jyoti's grandson, Saurabh, "over the years with advanced technology, our quality has only grown from strength to strength."
The factory has also invested heavily in the development of Parwanipur, not just by giving jobs to locals but also setting up in health and education infrastructure. Jyoti Group's mobile clinics have now taken the shape of Jyoti Clinic, a health post that provides free care to surrounding villages.
The group has also established Little Flowers School, a state of the art education center at the Jyoti Farm in Parwanipur in which children from the region get quality education. "The students at Little Flower are just as good as any student in an English medium school in Kathmandu," says Saurabh Jyoti.
From its inception, Himal Iron and Steel has always made it a matter of principle to hire local people as much as possible, upgrading their skills through training. Today, Himal's construction steel props up the country's infrastructure from the Karnali Bridge to the Nepal Telecom building, the Engineering College in Pulchok, Sunkosi Hydro power house, Soaltee Hotel and many others.