Launch of 2 New Programs at Nepal Communitere

5 August 2021 - Rachana Khatri

By: Padmakshi Rana and Aarati Joshi 

We are delighted to announce the launch of two new programs in July 2021 at Nepal Communitere!

Renewable Energy Solution in Agriculture (RESA) Incubation Program

As part of our continued partnership with ICIMOD, the second incubation cohort at the Tourovation Hub was launched this month – Renewable Energy Solution in Agriculture (RESA) Incubation Program. It’s been an enriching experience working with the ICIMOD and SELCO Foundation teams in this journey of supporting MSMEs in the tourism sector and now in the agriculture sector. As we begin this new chapter, we are thrilled to introduce our new partner R&D Innovative Solution, who has been working for two decades to address the challenges of the farming communities of Nepal. We were able to pull together a soft launch of the program while celebrating Sunita ji’s birthday at the Hub!

We are feeling proud of this program and collaboration with ICIMOD and Nepal Communitere, as we are confident that this program will help to address the energy deficiency faced by farmers and food processors in a more sustainable way.

Sunita Nhemaphuki, Co-Founder/CEO, R&D Innovative Solution Pvt. Ltd.

The RESA Incubation Program aims to help Nepali agricultural enterprises adapt and transform to resilient businesses through the development of sustainable business models. This intervention specifically focuses on bringing innovation in the agriculture value chain by introducing renewable energy (RE) and energy-efficient (EE) solutions. RESA contributes towards ICIMOD’s REEECH (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Capability of the Hindu Kush Himalaya) objective to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investors, and policy enablers, to integrate RE and EE solutions into small mountain enterprises across the HKH, and scaling up enterprises. Anu Joshi Shrestha, Rural Enterprise and Value Chain Specialist, Livelihoods, and project lead from ICIMOD shares,

“Excited to partner with Nepal Communitere yet another time for this second cohort where we are creating a nexus of agriculture, renewable energy, and entrepreneurship under the name RESA for Innovation. RESA meaning veins in Nepali providing necessary nutrients to plants, the abbreviation, and the name perfectly resonates with the work we plan to do. Our RESA incubation program tries to bring RE innovation to encourage youth participation in the agriculture sector and transform them from farmers to agripreneurs to build green and resilient businesses.”

The eight agri-enterprises participating in the six months program come from varied backgrounds – technology developers, users and service providers. We recently kicked off the Program with our first virtual masterclass on ‘orientation and incubation milestones’. The enthusiasm and motivation of the incubatees despite the technical challenges (electricity and internet!) is commendable. We are very much looking forward to engaging with the enterprises through upcoming business and financial coaching sessions, design sprints, business modeling and access to finance amongst others.

“We see great opportunities to enhance the agricultural productivity in the mountains, which could be tapped by integrating RE and EE solutions into the value chains. We are, therefore, keen to explore applied innovations, co-create approaches and build evidence to the mainstream deployment of RE and EE solutions by partnering with enterprises in the mountains. We believe in helping mountain communities by providing the tools and information as needed to help themselves.”

Mewang Gyeltshen, Program Coordinator, REEECH, Adaptation, and Resilience Building

We will be introducing the eight dynamic enterprises of RESA in our August newsletter, please keep a lookout!

UNDP’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (GEF-SGP): Upscaling Nepal’s Green Enterprises 

In our mission ‘to support entrepreneurs to build successful businesses that create viable solutions, generate revenue, and create jobs for a better Nepal’, we are incredibly excited to partner with the GEF-SGP team, and assist two of our I-Cube Business Business Incubation Program, Year 2 alumni – Antidote Nepal and Ecoorb Ventures in upscaling their businesses.

GEF-SGP “works with local communities in developing countries, including Nepal, to achieve global environmental benefits by addressing their local needs. The program provides grants to civil society organizations or community-based organizations for initiatives geared at the conservation of biodiversity, mitigation of climate change, reduction of land degradation, protection of international waters and elimination of hazardous chemicals.”

Our ethos is to operate from a place of curiosity versus assumptions and expectations. GEF’s focal areas – climate change and capacity development, align with our objective to support enterprises that focus on integrating social and environmental initiatives in their everyday operations to influence change in consumer behavior and promote conscious consumption while creating green jobs focusing on gender equality and social inclusion. We work with start-ups like Antidote Nepal and Ecoorb Ventures that have sustainability at the core of their operations with Antidote Nepal being based in Kathmandu and expanding their services and Ecoorb Ventures’s paper factory and workers based in Sauraha, Chitwan.

We caught up with the Founders of Antidote Nepal and Ecoorb Ventures to hear their views and the way forward.

Manish Jung Thapa,  Founder, Antidote Nepal

How do you feel about receiving the grant?

Really Excited! The timing of the grant could not have been any better. Post-COVID, we had to pivot our entire business model, essentially starting from square one. We are currently at the stage of product-market fit, trying to learn key market insights for our new model. This grant will help us acquire key customer segments, strengthen our infrastructure and increase sales.

What will you be doing with the grant and how do you think this will change the way you are working, especially in light of the pandemic? 

This grant will fundamentally help us to bolster our capacity to pick, process, and dispatch items; help us test out the market at scale; reach new pockets of customer segments; and increase our sales, which directly help us save 65,000kgs of carbon emissions.

As we were testing a resilient/sustainable business model (Antidote GO) that has the ability to weather through unpredictable times like the current pandemic, we found that it is logistically demanding, unlike our previous business model. In order to cope up with the operational and logistical requirements, we need to invest in human resources and infrastructure (both digital and physical). As such, a portion of the grant will be leveraged to fulfill this objective.

At the moment, we are also testing key customer segments. We previously launched our product with urban women (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Pokhara, and Chitwan) between the age of 18-24 in one category (apparel and fashion). This grant will help us identify other key pockets of customer segments and categories to upscale our business through marketing campaigns and advertisements, whilst promoting conscious consumption.

Our entire business model revolves around enabling individuals to monetize their pre-loved assets (apparel, clothes, books, bags, shoes, and home decor items). Every time we enable a buy/sell deal in our platform, we offset 15kgs of carbon emission. When we enable a second-hand sale, it does not only help individuals earn a decent passive income, but also increases the effective life of the items, reduces the items that are sent off to landfills, and lastly, reduces the demand for brand new items.  We have a mammoth goal of offsetting 65,000kgs of carbon emissions by the end of 2022.

Sunny Rajopadhyaya, Founder, Ecoorb Ventures

How do you feel about receiving the grant?

We are enormously pleased to receive the grant. We now believe we can work towards executing our long-term goals of installing a biogas plant and banana fibre extracting machine. We will be able to focus on achieving our company’s core value to make paper production cleaner and greener.

What will you be doing with the grant and how do you think this will change the way you are working, especially in light of the pandemic?

We will be able to install a biogas plant and the banana fibre extraction machine that we have been planning for some time now. The need to have a biogas plant is to offset our current carbon emissions in the manufacturing process – burning wood at the moment. The wood stores thousands of years of carbon and burning them releases twice as much carbon in their trunks. When we avoid burning 10,000 kgs of wood fuel, we directly offset around 1800kgs of carbon. With this in mind, using biodigester to produce biogas, we can offset approximately 88,870 kgs of carbon. 

In light of the pandemic, we are happy that some of the grant amounts can be used to cover operational costs. This changes the way we work because we can assure our customers that elephant dung paper is carbon neutral.