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03 February 2014 Business 10 Questions

Thinlas Chorol

Founder of the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company, who recently received a rural entrepreneurship award at the Indian Merchant’s Chamber in Mumbai

What does your travel company do?

We take people for mountaineering and trekking. LWTC is the first travel agency in Lad­akh solely operated by women.

How did you set up the enterprise?

Experience, love for the mountains, hard work and my stint as a tour guide helped me. I wanted to help Ladakhi women financially.

How did you prepare for it?

To improve my skills as a guide, I did a mountaineering course at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and studied at the National Outdoor Leadership School.

You’re the first Ladakhi to work as an instructional aide at the National Outdoor Leadership School....

Yes, I received financial support, but had my heart in the right place.

Were you always fond of the outdoors?

I'd accompany my father to the mountains to hunt for animal fodder. I’ll always love them.

Is it common among Ladakhi women to access the mountains?

They don’t work as guides despite great knowledge of the terrain.

What challenges did you have to face while training people?

Gaining command over English and local dialects.

What kind of growth have you registered?

In four years, we have grown from three to 22 employees. After being featured in Guardian and BBC, we started getting foreign clients too.

How do you manage the off-season?

We are experimenting with organic farm products that can be sold in winter.

What do you expect from the government?

We want to educate Ladakhi women about their rights in terms of inheritance, separation, sexual crimes etc. Ladakh is cut off during winter and there are issues with internet access and electricity. The government needs to help.

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OUTLOOK: 03 February, 2014
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