New Delhi: Zakietsono Jamir aka Atsi is the founder and owner of Farmer Square Cafe based in Medziphima in the Dimapur district of rural Nagaland. At the Farmer Square Cafe, with a small team of 4 female employees (helpers and sales assistants), Zakietsono serves freshly ground coffee to customers in a pristine and eco-friendly environment. Moreover, they also offer different mixes and other kinds of locally processed food products like pickles, sauces, mushrooms, canned pineapples etc.
Zakietsono’s entrepreneurial journey has had its ups and downs, however. Since her childhood, she had been planning to start something of her own. She completed her studies at the Catholic Institute of Nagaland, then pursued a bachelor’s degree in literature. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of college halfway due to a financial crisis in the family. This did not deter Zakietsono, however, and her determination, self-confidence and determination helped her through difficult times and continue to look for ways to start her own business.
“In 2017, Zakietsono attended a local workshop and learned the process of making coffee from beans. She was fascinated by the idea of how coffee goes from farm to cup and the different factors that improve the taste of coffee. As she researched more on specialty coffee, a business idea brewed! “
“Experimenting with coffee was something that motivated me and ignited my passion. With that in mind, I started my Farm Square Cafe business. My entrepreneurial journey was tough, but today I can say proudly that ‘cafe’ has become my identity and helped me through some of the most difficult times in life. The more I go, the more I know myself and the more I love my job, “says Zakietsono.
Atsi initially started the business in 2018, but was only forced to shut it down after a few months, due to issues around the capital. However, instead of giving up, she was eager to learn from her experiences and began to muster the resources and capital necessary to initiate a comeback. Finally, she was able to restart Farmer Square Cafe operations in November 2019, and since then it has only been more and more. She joined the Her & Now support program last year, implemented by the German development cooperation agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in cooperation with local partners. This has helped her take the business to a whole new level. Speaking of which, Zakietsono says, “At first I was not very clear with my business model and my product marketing plans. However, after joining the Her & Now program, I realized the power of storytelling. As part of the project support program, I was able to hone my business skills and integrate innovation and resilience into myself and my business activities. Joining the Her & Now platform has been of immense help in terms of continuing my entrepreneurial journey, networking and expanding my business strategies. “
Currently, his daily business activities at Farm Square Cafe include coffee making, customer service and hospitality, overseeing cafe operations, organizing workshops and trainings, and more. She recently ran a number of workshops for local women on understanding coffee, barista skills, hand brewing, cupping, etc. and plans to organize more such workshops in the future.
Through her business, Zakiestono has not only employed and provided a stable source of income for young women in neighboring localities, but also encourages young people to engage in the cultivation of agriculture and invest in high quality agricultural products. . Additionally, she was a pioneer in introducing the trend of a “quality coffee culture” in and around Medziphima and has been unofficially referred to as the “Coffee Lady of Nagaland”!
Zakiestono is one of more than 150 women entrepreneurs from the various states of the North East to have been supported by GIZ’s “Her & Now”, an ongoing project implemented in different regions of India by the German cooperation agency. development Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in partnership with the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship of the Government of India.
“Over the past two years, the Her & Now project has succeeded in creating a significant positive impact in the lives of women entrepreneurs in Nagaland and other northeastern states. The successes of entrepreneurs like Zakiestono bear witness to this. Foundation for women entrepreneurs who support, encourage and reinforce each other through incubation and acceleration support programs managed by our local partner, Dhriiti, the project nurtures in them an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit Said Ullas Marar, Her & Now Project Manager, GIZ.
To implement the Her & Now project in the North East region, GIZ has joined forces with the incubator – “Dhriiti – The Courage Within”. The project not only equips selected women entrepreneurs with essential business skills, but also offers personalized support through mentoring, access to market opportunities and peer networks, links with financial institutions, etc. . To date, the project has already supported more than 400 women entrepreneurs from various parts of India, helping them turn their business ideas into businesses and put their existing businesses on a path of sustainable growth.
Commemorating and celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month (March 2021), the “Her & Now” media campaign attempts to highlight the inspiring success stories of women like Zakiestono, who break gender stereotypes and overcome socio-economic challenges / obstacles every day to fuel their entrepreneurial dreams and contribute to India’s growth.