RESA Design Sprint: Agri-Entrepreneurs go through Design Thinking with DoLAB

6 September 2021 - Rachana Khatri

By: Samanata Thapa

It has been an exciting month at Nepal Communitere as we continue to strengthen our partnership with ICIMOD and foster new ones through the Renewable Energy Solutions in Agriculture (RESA) incubation program. Innovation is always at the heart of our program and as we opened our doors for the agri-entrepreneurs we also extended our partnership with DoLAB at King’s College to take our agri-entrepreneurs through the Design-Thinking Process by organizing a 4-day design sprint workshop.

The 4-day Design Sprint was designed, planned and delivered by Prateek Raj Neupane  and Raunak Chaudhari Lab Masters at DoLAB in collaboration with Swechhya Rajbhandary and Udgum Khadka from Demola at King’s College. The sprint was designed to identify challenges, create innovative solutions using RE and EE technology and effectively test and validate them with the users and sector experts. The sprint was conducted to support agri-entrepreneurs to ideate solutions to integrate RE and EE technology into their value chain. 

The entire sprint was conducted online by using various online learning tools and platforms like jamboard and ZOOM to identify their challenges, ideate, prototype and validate their solutions. The RESA cohort is a diverse pool of agri-entrepreneurs who are either producers, technology providers or market creators in the agricultural ecosystem of Nepal. The design process and tools were entirely new to most of our entrepreneurs. But, thanks to the DoLAB team and their excellent contextualization of the process and facilitation in Nepali, the entrepreneurs were quick to learn and immerse themselves into the process.

During the sprint we were joined by sector experts Jiwan Kumar Mallik from Alternative Promotion Center (AEPC), Avishek Malla, Solar Energy Expert at ICIMOD, and Anjal Niraula CEO at Gham Power for an expert session to provide their valuable insights on the prototypes created and presented by the entrepreneurs. Each enterprise was provided with insights based on the experience of the experts. The session was helpful in validating, providing clarity and confidence to the entrepreneurs to adopt the best available RE and EE technology and practices in Nepal.

The completion of the sprint marks the beginning of the entrepreneurs to pursue and integrate RE and EE solutions into their business model. Following are the inspiring work and solutions the entrepreneurs will be emphasizing to achieve through the incubation period with business and financial coaches Aarati Joshi, Padmakshi Rana and Samanata Thapa at Nepal Communitere:

1.Saugat Griha Sindhuli: A women led enterprise based in Sindhuli, Saugat Griha collects local produce from farmers and processes them into dry food products like Masyora, Gundruk and Chips. However, the enterprise has not been able to produce at its fullest capacity, especially during monsoon season as they heavily depend on naturally drying their products outside in the sun. The enterprise looks forward to integrating RE into their value chain by adopting a solar dryer to bring efficiency in their production and expand their production capacity.

2. Chhahari Krishi Samuha: Another women led enterprise in the program, Chhahari Krishi Samuha are producers based in Sunakothi, Lalitpur. They have been producing seasonal vegetables and flowers that are sold in the local market. The enterprise has adopted the drip irrigation system to cultivate flowers like marigold to be commercially sold in the market and the enterprise now wants to install drip irrigation and solar water pumping systems in a larger plot of land to to increase their vegetable production.

3. WindPower Nepal: Vertical farming technology providers and producers, WindPower aims to promote vertical farming in Nepal through their hydroponic systems and initiative Muttha.  Muttha by WindPower Nepal looks forward to producing herbs and leafy vegetables using their hydroponics system. Similarly, forward to integrating solar energy to operate their hydroponic system and automate the control sensors by using clean energy and to reduce the cost of production for a system that needs continuous energy supply to function.

4. Krishi Udhyamshala: Cold room chain technology providers, Krishi Udhyamshala are trying to reduce the 50% post harvest loss experienced by the farmers in Nepal. The cold room chain can elongate the shelf life and freshness of the fresh produce but it requires continuous supply of electricity. The enterprise looks forward to integrating solar panels for uninterrupted power supply in the cold rooms to save the post harvest loss in remote parts of Nepal.

5. Green Growth Nepal: Green Growth is an online market platform for fresh vegetables and fruits that are sourced from various different producers around Nepal. The enterprise is currently facing challenges with their delivery and transportation of goods at a timely and reasonable cost. Their outsourced logistics partner for delivery is proving to be unfit for their business. They look forward to transitioning to electric vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint, make their items available at a competitive price and maximize their single day deliveries in the market.

6. Quality Renewable Energy: Renewable technology providers to farmers all over Nepal the enterprise is currently facing challenges around lack of skilled human resource to install, operate and take care of the maintenance of the RE machines and machineries. The enterprise looks forward to creating skilled human resources who can install, operate and maintain the RE technologies through training and workshops so that more farmers are confident and comfortable to adopt RE technology.

7. Shijan Organic: Technology providers and Agromart based in Khumaltar promotes produce of the local farmers all around Nepal. The agromart is currently facing challenges to keep the local produce fresh and elongate the shelf life of the food items. They look forward to establishing a cold showroom that will be powered by solar energy, ensuring freshness of the food products and fresh produce.

8. Himalayan Tranquility: A woman led export based enterprise that has been creating a marketplace for Nepali agricultural products in the global market, Himalayan Tranquility seeks to integrate RE and EE technology in processing and packaging the products to ensure quality and shelf life of the products.