Nepali Times
Empowering young entrepreneurs


Twenty-year-old Pushpa Basnet was on a college field trip to a women's jail in Kalimati when she met Kanchi, daughter of one of the inmates. Basnet, unaware that when parents are imprisoned their homeless children often stay with them, was surprised to see a child there. "At that moment I knew I had to do something to make the lives of these children better," says Pushpa. That was when she opened the Early Childhood Development Centre.

Now, seven years later, Pushpa is sheltering and educating 35 children whose parents are in jail. She also runs a day care centre for children who are too young to be away from their mothers. But though she collected money from friends and family to support the centre, she was all too aware of the need to become self-sufficient.

Help arrived in the form of Change Fusion Nepal, set up in 2008 as part of Change Fusion Thailand. Pushpa entered the organisation's Nepal Young Social Entrepreneurs Competition in 2009, and was among the five young social entrepreneurs selected for interest-free loans, technical assistance and mentoring. With the support of Change Fusion Nepal (CFN), Pushpa has been able to train mothers in jail to make handicrafts and textiles. The products they make have found a lucrative market not just in Nepal but in America, Europe and Asia.

 "We were not just looking for innovative ideas but people who had the commitment to work for it," says Luna Shrestha Thakur, founding director of CFN. "It was important for the business ideas to not just be profit oriented but also to have a positive impact on the community." Prospective entrepreneurs had to be between the ages of 20-35.

CFN received 60 applications for the competition. The selected individuals attended a capacity-building workshop and received continuous mentoring from CFN. "While the numbers of youth going abroad are on the rise, just the interest that the competition generated shows that there are young motivated individuals who see entrepreneurial opportunities in Nepal's problems," says Thakur.

One such entrepreneur, selected alongside Pushpa, was Ranjit Kushwaha of Bara. He sought a solution to the problems of poor rickshaw pullers in Bara, who paid the bulk of their daily earnings to rickshaw owners. With seed money from CFN, Ranjit and his team of 17 volunteers set up a cooperative that allows rickshaw pullers to purchase a rickshaw on an installment basis. Sumina Shrestha, Urmila Malakar and Sambhu Poudel were the other three individuals selected by CFN, to implement projects related to potato farming, Newari handicrafts and olive farming.  
Now that CFN is getting returns on its first phase of investment, it has begun planning for a second phase. A CFN team will visit six districts " Parsa, Tanahu, Bhojpur, Mustang, Dang and Kailali " starting December to interact with local youths about the possibility of locally feasible and environmentally sustainable social enterprises. Then, Change Fusion Nepal will once again call for project proposals. This time, it will select 25 projects.

"It's not that we don't have people or ideas," says Ashutosh Tiwari of Entrepreneurs for Nepal, who also mentors the projects involved with CFN. "But organisations like CFN band such people together, giving them access not just to funds but also to a support system for expert advice, and help them develop their own networks."

Paavan Mathema

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1. nabin
finally we read of a non-commercial organization as nepali times company of the month, rather than the usual money hungry ones. thats why it must have taken you so long to find one. nice work mr mathema! we need more organizations like these here, the banks won't even think of investing in such ventures.. someone has to.

2. ramlal
nabin, you are mistaken. 

if you look at the boards of global do-gooder NGOs, those boards are filled with people who came from or spent years at "money hungry" private sector companies. that tells you that NGOs themselves want experienced people from the "money hungry" private sector to manage their boards and lead their organisations' directions. 

companies have to be money hungry because only by being hungry for money, they can earn money to pay their employees and meet their expenses. the employees then may want to donate some of their income to entities like change fusion. no money hungry company = no money for their employees =  no donations to entities like change fusion. do not think that money grows on trees for easy picking. it doesn't. someone has to be hungry to earn that so that social venture funds can be funded, if the money-owner desires so.

companies can rarely be "money greedy". if they are so, then, nobody wants to do business with them. when was the last time, in a competitive market,  you repeatedly bought goods and services from "money greedy" sellers? you may be fooled once or twice, but not all the time by 'money greedy" sellers, who will eventually either have to lower prices to attract more customers or go out of business if they stick to "greedy" prices. 

3. Sargam

Ms. Pushpa Basnet, Ms. Luna Shreshta Thakur and Mr. Kushwala along with many other Nepalese new entrepreneurs deserve our strong encouragement to be egged on to carry out improvements to their new entrepreneurship. For sure, they are the backbone of Nepalese society with its diversity.

All these recent past years a flood of capital is trying to enter microfinance institutions. Therefore why there is an urgent need to improve their management and corporate governance to cope with the growing competition in order to improve its credibility near the people who really make effort to thrive.

Amongst all those microfinance banks that make tiny loans to the very poor, there is no doubt the Grameen Bank founded on October1, 1983 AD by the Nobel prize-winner Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh.

According to the recent survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation (CFSFI), this sector of lending is rising by 25% every year and the Grameen Bank issued 6.38 billion US dollars to 7.4 million of borrowers by 2007.

However, there are a few remarks about the shortcomings in management skills and corporate governance have made echos as this kind of institutions are more dominated by non lucrative visionaries than those that see things with strategic flexibility and profit as well.

It is therefore necessary to be more responsible and see how far the commercial aspects would not readily destroy its main raison d'etre i.e. the social ethos.

So far, microfinance has remained safe from credit crunch by avoiding overheating. Effectively, these days there are many doomsayers trying to destabilize this kind of new way of lending money.

Of late, the second biggest EU Bank namely 'Credit Agricole' became the first biggest partner of the Grameen Bank for which Yunus came to Paris to ink the newly established deal so as to increase its assets.

They are supposed to open many branches in countries like Nepal when the present political turmoil gets down to normalcy.

For once, we must not just gimmick up the shortcomings of global free market. Despite all loss of jobs and closing down of factories in rich countries, big transfer of skills and wealth has been operated in favor of the developing countries and at the same time very fast trends toward creation of jobs are taking place, especially in the lines of eco-friendly and biodiversified activity all over the world. And many NGOs are participating in different lines of activity to help the locals to improve their lot right from scratch.

It is a good way to �dip a toe in the water� of overall life experiences.

That is all to the good, albeit for a second wind we have got to cope with the bitter and protracted obstacle course.

For more information try: and

NB: I have seen two kinds of microcredit distribution that are working quite differently but both of them have found their pace and momentum out of the flows. Let me illustrate them here down below:

1.The Grameen Bank practice: For starters, when there is a sufficient amount of money available for lending, five different borrowers can unite to petition for the grant. Those five are usually the village family house wives who are determined and are ready for a new entrepreneurship. They could be just kith and kin or siblings but what is necessary is they must have absolute faith in each others integrity. Each member becomes the guarantor of the other. That way when the deadline for reimbursement comes each could count on the others. This principle is largely practiced by the aforesaid bank everywhere since 1983 AD, and it works quite conveniently so far.

2.The Chinese Diaspora way: There is hardly any place world over where Chinese people ain't arrived. My curiosity made me ask one of them as to how they manage always to prosper so rapidly. He told me about the very old method that Chinese people are practicing with success for ages.

First off, say the grown-ups want to migrate. They choose the destination by a group of a dozen. As they don't have visa the easiest way is to embark upon an adventure of clandestine foray. When they arrive at their destination, each tries to earn his living mostly in Chinese restaurants as dishwasher or aide-kitchen. They become so busy with their stint that after say two years of stay those who were paid for their work decide to unite their money together to start a new Chinese restaurant. When this restaurant starts making profits then another restaurant for another former participant, and this process continues until all of those previous participants have their own restaurants in a different town or agglomeration.

When there is a will there is a way

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)