The social enterprise model has been a staple of Nepali culture since ancient times. Local communities such as the Newa have established “Guthi,” a system that maintains socio-economic order by conducting social activities and generating revenue from the members of the organization. More recently, local entrepreneurs have created workshops and events to formally introduce and establish social entrepreneurship in Nepal.
As it stands today, social enterprises are especially popular with the younger generation of Nepali professionals. Here are 9 such ventures from Nepal you need to know about for 2016.
Biruwa Ventures is one of first organizations to offer business mentorship and shared office spaces in Nepal. Its goal is to promote and support local entrepreneurs by providing them with business guidance and a space to launch their ventures.
Higher Ground offers baked goods, handicrafts, jewelry, and an assortment of other products. Proceeds go towards scholarships for the needy, job training initiatives for women/youth at risk of exploitation, micro enterprise support packages, and psychological counseling programs for trafficked girls.
Loneliness and dependency in aging populations is a prevalent but often ignored issue—to combat this, Bihani Social Ventures provides support services to citizens age 50 and above, enabling them to lead happy, fruitful lives. For example, its counseling programs focus on helping elders combat problems through various social activities.
Despite living in a country rich in water resources, Nepali citizens face daily hurdles in acquiring and managing potable water. Smart Paani (Nepali for water) focuses on sustainable water management solutions for rain harvesting, water filtration, water cycling, waste water treatment, and others.
Action Works Nepal’s mission is to maintain social equality by empowering underprivileged, vulnerable and excluded societal groups. It generates income from recycling materials and creating custom products—the revenue is subsequently used to fund various social programs throughout Nepal.
High altitudes are ideal for optimal coffee growing, and Nepal boasts some of the highest elevations in the world. Agriculture is also one of the country’s backbone industries; these two factors position Alpine Coffee Estate Pvt. Ltd. for continued success. Its Kathmandu Coffee features quality coffee from local producers and provides employment opportunities to nearby inhabitants , as well as resources for starting a coffee business: free saplings, guidance for coffee plantation operations, instructions on organic compost preparation, and other information for sustainably growing coffee.
Kakani Himlayan Natural Dyes empowers women through training/skills development programs , job training, and guidance for women entrepreneurs. Some of their training programs include candle making, dying with natural dyes, micro business management, and more.
FeltBallRug.com is more than its name implies: the enterprise is focused on providing a sustainable livelihood to Nepalese women artisans as well as making a profit. Every rug for sale on the website is handmade by artisans from Kathmandu. The enterprise enables local women to work from home or within walking distance to the workshops.
Maya Universe provides free education for underprivileged children in rural parts of Nepal—parents simply spend two days a month in organic farming and animal husbandry in exchange. Revenues from products and goods sold are then used to support the program’s educational efforts.
Nepal—with its growing number of social enterprises—is a global leader in creating sustainable models for solving complex social problems with local human and natural resources. In fact, the country recently hosted its first international conference on social entrepreneurship attended by social enterprise leaders from the around the world. Be sure to keep an eye on this region for more innovative social enterprises in the months and years ahead.