As part of the VilCap-Start business accelerator, a collaboration with Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (at Emory University), Village Capital, Refugee Women’s Network, and the Clarkston Community Center, three business owners were selected by their peers to receive $10,000 loans for their business. CDF is sharing profiles of the winners.
Himalaya Production LLC
Deepak Gajmer was born in Bhutan, but grew up in a Nepali refugee camp where he and his family lived a difficult life. They had limited access to many essential needs, including food and shelter, but Deepak said he received a good education, studying marketing and economics.
Upon his resettlement to the United States, Deepak became a leader in has community and now owns a small business—Himalaya Production LLC—that produces and repairs jewelry and clothing in downtown Clarkston.
Soon after he first arrived in September 2008, he got work washing dishes at the restaurant Cloud IX in Castleberry Hill. Within a year of working there, he moved to the front desk to take orders, gaining customer service experience and soon became a manager. This experience gave him insight into what it means to run a business.
In the meantime, Deepak was active with his Bhutanese community. He was a founder and the executive director of the Bhutanese Arts and Culture Center Inc., which he helped form in 2009, and while working there, he taught choreography to his students, one of whom is now the executive director there. As years passed, the idea to form a business began to take shape.
“I was thinking, ‘We have a skill.’ My brother in Chicago has 40 years of experience as a jeweler,” he said. “But because he couldn’t speak English, he was hired at a chicken farm. That was very difficult for him.”
Deepak took lessons in jewelry-making from various experienced jewelers, and began to take orders from people that he knew. Soon the orders were too much for him to handle on his own, and he took on two more employees, including his brother, who moved to Atlanta to work with him. He then was accepted to the Vilcap Start business accelerator program.
“I was so excited and thankful that as a young business owner, the program was able to help me structure my business,” he said. “In the future I hope to make this business bigger and I hope to empower the talent and skill that the Bhutanese people have.”
He says his proudest moment, since his arrival, was in support of his community. He collected 125 job applications from Bhutanese community members and gave them to a connection that he knew was hiring at Super H Mart—who then hired 65 of the Bhutanese applicants.
Deepak said he takes inspiration from his father, Naina Gajmer, and his mother, Bafuli Gajmer, and could not have gotten where he is without their support. His business is located at 3655 Market Street, in Clarkston.
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