Cera Nepal Udhyog is one of the oldest ceramic manufacturers in Nepal, carrying forward the legacy and tradition of pottery making in Nepal. Established in 1984 by Ratna Prajapati, the company with a rich history is now adopting a process of reinvention, adapting to modern times. Cera produces elegant and stylish ceramic products ranging from dining/crockery to indoor/outdoor decors. Their traditional terracotta floor and wall tiles are witnessing renewed interest from the market. The growing demand from business buyers like hotels and restaurants and retail buyers who have a taste for authentic and trendy earthenware products is encouraging the company to further increase its production capacity to meet demand.
Alina Prajapati, daughter of Ratna Prajapati, has stepped in as the Managing Director for Cera Nepal and is trying to bring in new ideas and reinvigorate the business by augmenting their production and marketing capabilities. Their business resilience was tested a while back when 2 of their 3 kilns were damaged in the 2015 Earthquake, further exacerbated by the COVID Pandemic which forced them to operate at less than 50% capacity due to lack of skilled manpower and logistical difficulties.
On the brighter side, ceramic products are witnessing a surge in demand from domestic and international buyers alike. The new customers are well informed and specify their needs in terms of design, color and specific finishing variations for these products. Apart from production, Cera has also been providing pottery classes for those who want to try their hands at this delicate art form, which is often described as being therapeutic by their clients.
Cera sees a great opportunity to return to full production and even increase it beyond there, but Alina knows that she needs to address several underlying issues to be able to make the most out of the current opportunity. The priority for Alina is to return to full production, and for this, she will have to recruit more skilled manpower to operate the turning wheels and kilns. Cera used to employ 12 people before the lockdown but was forced to downsize to six people. While improving product output and quality is the short term goal, in the long run they look towards investing in the latest machinery and equipment that would enable them to achieve the best quality surface finishes with numerous texture options and also add advanced printing capabilities to meet customization demands.
Cera Nepal Udyog is one of the beneficiaries of the COVID-19 MSME Fund Nepal, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation – SDC and FMO – Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, and managed by One to Watch. With the help of the fund, Cera Nepal Udyog was able to receive an interest-free and collateral-free from Laxmi Bank which was mainly utilized to meet their working capital requirements and increase production. OTW also aims to provide tailored business development services to Cera Nepal Udyog by assisting the company to create a digital presence for the company to display product portfolio and generate a lead, improve bookkeeping practices and acquaint them with export processes and regulations.