Friends Handicrafts

Sustainable cat toys from Kathmandu

In 2004, Nirjala Shrestha founded the ‘Friends Handicrafts’ felt factory in Kathmandu in order to create a secure place of work for women from extremely poor and socially disadvantaged families. The company designs and produces colourful felt products. The shoes, bags and pets’ toys are manufactured using local sheep’s wool and exported to Europe and the United States. Visitors to the workshop are immediately met by countless smiles. Nirjala’s motto adorns the walls of the office: ‘Non-discrimination, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.’ More than 100 women work here; alongside fair pay, they also receive support with their children’s education. In 2013, Friends Handicrafts was recognised with the prestigious Nepal Social Entrepreneurship Award.