I see many vehicles in Kathmandu and I get amazed how well they are maintained. I had a bike earlier which I had to sell because I wasn’t able to maintain its running cost. But seeing how many motorbikes and cars there are in the valley, I always wondered “Garage and Workshop must earn a lot!”. To quench this curiosity, I thought of talking with a workshop owner.
The story of Shahid Khan begins 13 years ago in the year 2006 when motorcycles were starting to boom in the valley. This was when he thought of starting his workshop in Kathmandu. To start the workshop business, he learned the skills required to repair the vehicle, from different garage in Baneshwor for around 3 years.
But before that, he had prior experience working in motorbike workshop in Saptari, which also happens to be his homeland. And after that he came to Kathmandu to web his dreams of owning his own business and started to work in Baneshwor for gaining more experience and after a while saved enough from his earning to open up the workshop in Bhimsengola, Kathmandu.
He invested Rs.35,000 to open workshop in Bhimsengola, Kathmandu from his own money which he collected from working in another garage. And finally, he opened his workshop by the name of “Shahid Khan workshop”.
First and foremost, he hadn’t faced any loss while starting the business but he had problems building network with the community he was living in. He didn’t know many people in that community so, customers were less at the beginning, like any other business.
And slowly after building his network and trust with the community, his customers increased. Currently, around 10-12 customers come to his workshop on an average, where his earning is around Rs. 1,500- 2,000 in a day after working for 13 years.
He was alone at first, when he started his workshop business, but later on after increase in customers, he added 4 workers to make his business efficient. 4 workers were his own cousins, and his relatives’ brothers, whom he pays their salary plus he also pays for their education, who also live together in the same home.
Today when the workshop is running day in and day out, still the space has become a constrain. There is limited storage space, that affects the amount of inventory that can be stored at a moment. Mr. Khan prefers to visit Teku in every 10 days and buy the supply for next 10 days, the bill is around 10,000 on each visit. On the other hands, it is not much likely that high costing equipment are found in the store due to the feasibility in bringing them from India and being hard to get the right customer at right price.
He earns Rs. 50, 000 on an average in a month. But the expenses costs around Rs.25,000. And in those profits, he has to pay for his home rent, study for his children and relatives. And also, workshop rent is Rs. 10,000 per month which is cut down from his expenses.
As his earning isn’t much where expenses costs half of his earning, so he hasn’t currently thought of expanding his business. Within which he has to pay for rent, education and other things, but he is satisfied by the way things are running. Although he is satisfied, his problem arises from the inflation of the products and services he uses. He says that, “Expenses are increasing in Kathmandu rapidly, because of which it is difficult to manage the finance of workshop and home.”
It is difficult to raise a family and run a small business in Kathmandu where there is little profit. The rent, food, education and everything’s price are increasing. His story says that, not every business is profitable even though it is sustained. And small business like Shahid Khan’s shows that owning and earning in business is less challenging than expanding and sustaining it due to the family responsibility, less finance and increment in price of basic needs. And here I thought that motorbike workshops earn a lot.