Nepal | November 27, 2020

Solution for sustainability: Youth entrepreneurship

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Socio-economic sustainability is possible through interdependence, in another word — collaboration. The right partnership will lead Nepal to development through innovation and entrepreneurship. It means taking matters in your hands when all you see around are problems. Instead of complaining, entrepreneurs take action

At one point, global warming was considered a conspiracy theory, now the stark reality is evident all over the world with untimely monsoons, natural calamities, species extinction and the list goes on. This, however, is the tip of the iceberg. Why? Because ‘to feed and fuel out 21st century lifestyles, we are overusing the Earth’s biocapacity by at least 56%and wildlife population declined by 68% on global average in the last 50 years’. One of the reasons why COVID-19 exists.This, however, is not an attempt to create panic, but to give an ideas of what could be done and what is happening.

Every time any natural/ health disaster strikes, there is a socio-economic repercussion. COVID-19 is the most recent and blaring example of this. Here is an example to give the effect a numeric value.In 2019, remittance contributed 26 per cent to Nepal’s GDP, whereas now it is less than 1 per cent, leaving thousands jobless. This was within three months from the first lockdown.

Thus, it is clear that Nepal needs to resort to sustainable alternatives. One of them is entrepreneurship.

No, it is not about business. These are two different approaches. Entrepreneurship’s endeavour is not capitalistic in nature.

Its existence is to solve persisting problems in the society.As they know their community best, they take the form of social enterprise.

Moreover, according to a Nepal Rastra Bank study of 2017-18, SMEs created 2.36 million jobs and contributed 22 per cent to the GDP.

Another vital segment to creating sustainability is entrepreneurship among youths. Due to longevity they can invest their time in social impact, they are the change makers who will support to formulate favourable policies to uplift entrepreneurship.

A contemporary model village is Amaltari, Chitwan.

This was made possible by investing in creatinga homogenous society that has heterogeneous layers of beliefs, faiths, reasonings, motives and logic to build a sustainable community.

Wildlife home stay was a strategic step with focus on green enterprise.

This created interdependence and income flow, which ultimately had ripple effects through health care, formalising informal work, social protection, education and awareness.

This was achieved with meaningful partnership between the central and local government, and the community.

The pandemic has affected tourism badly, and this village was not spared.

Nonetheless, sustainable kitchen gardensas well as a health clinic continue to function. “They are self-sustained, thus they are doing well,” added Ghana Shyam Gurung, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. This is what the organisation invests in.

Socio-economic sustainability is possible through interdependence, in another word — collaboration.

The right partnership will lead Nepal to development through innovation and entrepreneurship. It means taking matters in your hands when all you see around are problems.

Instead of complaining, entrepreneurs take action.

But who will invest knowledge, time and money in them? While exploring this question World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal came across Idea Studio Nepal’s (ISN) work. Thus, began the perfect partnership.

Idea Studio is a platform to turn promising ideas into solutions and ultimately ignite social change by enabling youth potentials.

“Our organisation is dedicated to nature, conservation and people. We cannot reach everywhere, thus we need a partner. We thought ISN would be the best partner to develop enterprises,”said Gurung Three pillars were essential for this.A substantial investment is essential that is possible with links to commercial financial institutions.Awell-planned process to take action, and wide outreach to the people from diverse sectors who are motivated and mentored. “This leads to sustainability and growth, and all this can be documented,” Gurung added.

There is ample competition, but collaboration is rare. Adding value to the companies or organisations leads to development.

A rigorous process is involved while providing support to the entrepreneurs.

They can apply from any part of Nepal, as long as their ideas have social impact and are innovative.

From more than 400 ideas, the process of shortlisting thetop 33 is methodical.

Four top ideas get a seed investment of Rs 500,000 each. Those who don’t get the seed investment are equally supported with constant mentoring and backstopping support.

With the foundation laid for asustainableecosystem, now gradually the stakeholders are reaping the benefit.

An exemplary initiative that is contributing to creating asustainable ecosystemis Mission Marci. The idea is to engage in organic farming on a big scale in Karnali. Deepak Bahadur- Budha has employed five people in his organic restaurant/organic product shop and has been directly supporting 60 farmers from 12 rural municipalities in Karnali by selling organic Marci rice produced by them.

Then there is the biodegradablekhata started by Ang Dolma Sherpa. She is working to establish and popularise the use of biodegradablekhatas made of natural fibres, which takes seven months to degrade whereas other khatas available in the market take 20- 200 years.

Then there is SajiloMarmatSewa.It started as an idea by three college students.

They have restored human dignity and provided stability to the blue-collar workers. For them, numbers says it all with the total number of technicians employed at 70, another 18 are full time staff with an annual turnover of Rs 15 million. And there are those who have just started their journey to contribute to the change. Black Soldier Fly and Team Vermi members are youths who believe in staying in Nepal and earning rather than living abroad. And the list continues towards making ideas a reality.

A version of this article appears in print on November 11, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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