While our politics flounders, dragging the economy in its wake, Nepalis are busy getting on with business the best they can. Few exemplify this positive drive as literally as Ashutosh Tiwari, who has just been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Born in Kathmandu and educated as an economist at Harvard, Tiwari has worked as a grassroots activist, a newspaper columnist at Nepali Times since 2003, and the CEO of Himalmedia Pvt. Ltd. He now heads the international NGO WaterAid Nepal.
In 2000, working at Backward Society Education (BASE), Tiwari assisted activist Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary with the launch of the kamaiya andolan that ended up freeing 200,000 bonded farm labourers in Dang, Bardiya, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Banke districts. "Ashutosh was involved in every aspect of our work, from visiting the villages to taking the movement to Kathmandu," recalls Chaudhary. Convinced that for-profit businesses enable the poor to take charge of their lives, Tiwari then became a small business advisor. He worked from 2001 to 2007 with a range of small firms in Nepal and Bangladesh as an employee of GTZ and the World Bank's IFC. As hisat GTZ, Jim Tomecko, says, "I worked with Ashutosh in the field of small business promotion for a number of years and in that time I grew to respect him for his dedication and commitment to 'doing the right thing' at all times. He is unsatisfied with accepting conventional approaches and always searches for innovative and imaginative solutions to the problems he confronts."
From 2007 to 2010, he was the CEO of Himalmedia. Publisher Kunda Dixit notes that "as CEO Ashutosh Tiwari was instrumental in turning Himalmedia around at a time of crisis in 2008-9. He pinpointed the problems, and went about finding solutions to them no matter how unpleasant or physically dangerous for himself the consequences were." At present, Tiwari is WaterAid's country head. He is also a co-founder of Entrepreneurs for Nepal, which brings together entrepreneurs for discussions, networking activities, bootcamps, and investments.
With this honour, awarded following rigorous selection procedures to extraordinary achievers 40 or younger, Tiwari joins an exclusive group of individuals from all walks of life, across the world. In the words of Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, "the Forum of Young Global Leaders is the voice of an optimistic future, an energetic catalyst for change".