Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012

Celebrating entrepreneurs who create social, environmental and economic values

Beyond Minding my own Business (THT)

[ Published in The Himalayan Times Perspective , dated 17 October 2012]

It would have been almost impossible to believe that students in Tanahu, Syangja and Udaypur districts pursue their studies through a barter exchange where their parents work on farms for two days a month. It is all possible through the efforts of a group of 15 young social entrepreneurs, who make some money out of agriculture and manage to run one school in each district. “Once we returned after completing our education abroad, we thought to contribute a bit to society by promoting agriculture and providing education to children,” said

Manjil Rana, a representative from Maya Universe Academy, a participant at the three-day long Social Entrepreneurship Bazaar.

According to him, they produce coffee under the brand name Maya Beans and sell it through volunteers abroad. The event organised by ChangeFusion Nepal with the support of Nepal Business Initiative under Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012 at Baber Mahal Revisited Courtyard stretched from October 4 to 6. “This event is an attempt to bring together social entrepreneurs from across Nepal and their potential supporters—their customers, investors, advisers and mentors on one platform where they can exchange, interact and learn,” shared Santoshi Rana, media, communication and programme coordinator at ChangeFusion Nepal, adding that the event will be followed by a seminar in November and the award programme in December. She also opined that the event would be instrumental in providing aspiring as well as existing social entrepreneurs an opportunity to seek and discuss support with regard to their ventures.

The first day of the event saw such an overwhelming number of visitors that the venue seemed to be crowded and congested.

Visitors clustered in all the 20 stalls of different products and services. The products featured at the bazaar varied from creative home décor to apparel and accessories, handicrafts, products and services catering to energy conservation, agro-based ventures, and much more. Moreover, the bazaar seemed livelier with a variety of culinary delights and additional attractions in culture and arts. Mostly visitors were busy with their queries regarding the inside story of the social entrepreneurs and about what was on exhibition. The vast majority of exhibitors have their own social cause for which they are working. They were using their entrepreneurship skills to make a change by trying to improve the education sector, empower women, environment conservation, preservation of resources and energy.

Rushka Sthapit, environment officer at Banners to Bags, a social entrepreneurship venture supported by CWIN, shared, “We are moving ahead with a vision of turning Kathmandu into a plastic-bag free city,” adding that they make re-useable bags out of discarded flex and fabric banners. According to her, it is part of a broader emerging environmental campaign to get people to think about creative and practical ways to reduce waste. The venture focuses on environmental sustain-ability, community education, youth empowerment and providing employment and vocational training to youth at-risk and marginalised women.

Biruwa Ventures add a different social touch to their entrepreneurship. Vidhan Rana, founding partner at Biruwa Ventures said, “We help entrepreneurs transform their ideas into sustainable and profitable ventures,” adding that they offer office spaces, consulting services, mentoring and financing.

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