Sustainable Products for the Middle Class Asian Customers

Sustainable Products for the Middle Class Asian Customers

Nepal
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We want to change the focus of fair trade on tourists and export markets to fair trade for local customers in developing countries like Nepal. It is a fact that consumption by rising middle class in Asia is growing fast and creates a tremendous risk for the environment. Not only the community producers will suffer the most for environmental damage but they will also lack behind in the global competition and lose their livelihood. Hence, there is a need to reduce environmental risks of new consumer groups and connect local products from communities to markets. Our store ‘Bazaar’ is creating a smooth introduction for sustainable products on the domestic market by promoting a mix of high value local products together with daily groceries and restaurant services.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We have our project in Nepal. Nepal is a Himalayan country located between India and Chain with 147,181 sq. Km. area. Nepal has approximately 30 million population. Despite having diverse culture, rich natural beauties and famous for various unique features like Mt. Everest and Gautam Buddha, it is a developing country having one of the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.428. Around 24% population live under-poverty line and unemployment rate is around 46% (2008 estimates). Agriculture remains Nepal's principal economic activity, employing 80% of the population and providing 37% of GDP. We have ‘Bazaar’ store in Pokhara. Pokhara is a second biggest sub-metropolitan city of Nepal with around 200,000 people living here. Pokhara is also the famous tourist destination of Nepal. The income of the people is increasing rapidly because of growing economic opportunities. This has given rise to more middle income families inside Pokhara who are only the consumers. Rapid urbanization, improvement in tourism industry and growing realty business are other factors that have lately increased the economic status people in Pokhara. Therefore, the market size of pokhara is growing day by day. We work in the communities like Rivan village around 14 Km North-east of Pokhara in the production sector. Rivan is village development committee having 9 communities and around 2500 population. We are working directly with around 200 families of Rivan who are involved in the cooperatives. The major income source of people in Rivan is agriculture and labour migration of youth. Labour migration is one of the grim situations of the villages in Nepal which is hindering the production sector.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

First of all our initiative is innovative for the way we introduce sustainable products to the Nepali middle class consumers. Bazaar is a department stores concept where you can only find sustainable products from around Nepal which previously didn’t exist. People are attracted to our store by daily groceries and restaurant/internet services and smoothly exposed to high value sustainable product such as handicraft picture frames and homemade herbal soap. We primarily focus on the products ranging from groceries to accessories and gifts that are produced in bio/organic, fair-trade, eco-friendly manners by the community producers. The second innovation is that BAZAAR actively reaches out to the communities as a business partner, consulting community producers on economic sustainable produce. We directly involve community producers in the supply chain and cut off informal brokers. Nepal is at a critical juncture to work towards political stability and sustainable development while making ongoing peace process a success. Integrating sustainability issues into economic development of the communities is still in its infancy in Nepal and it is therefore a challenging task. The observed fact is that development and promotion of the local economy and markets at community level is essential for reduction of poverty, employment creation and sustainable development of the communities along with bringing lasting peace. Therefore, to address this issue our project in a new contribution to the field.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The primary activities of our project are: 1. Local business development: Educating, training and motivating community producers to go into sustainable production concepts like bio/organic farming, eco-friendly production activities, fair-trade and sustainability. 2. Marketing: branding, promoting and selling local productions through ‘BAZAAR-a fair trade store’ established in Pokhara, Nepal. 3. Awareness raising: consult the communities about sustainable production and sensitize consumers that local/sustainable productions is not just for exporting to developed nations but also to be consumed in the local communities for promotion of local trade and sustainability.
About You
Organization:
Development Voyage
About You
First Name

Tulsi

Last Name

Giri

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Development Voyage

Organization Country

, GA

Country where this project is creating social impact

, GA

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

I am 25 years old youth who has passion to work in the sector of sustainability. I was born in a middle class family in rural village of western Nepal. I have completed BA in Sociology and Anthropology. In fall 2008, I went to Switzerland to attend a semester course on Development Studies and Public Health followed by a four months internship in a Swiss NGO. In the same year, I founded a development organization named USSHA Foundation, Nepal to initiate sustainable community development actions through youth involvement. We are implementing 'Youth in Sustainable Development' project, among others, since August 2008 in Rivan village of Nepal. Now, Rivan has a Community Resource Centre (CRC) which provides computer and skills trainings to the youth and cooperatives on Bio-dynamic Farming, Tourism and Fish farming reaching 200 families as an income generating opportunities for them.

During my travel abroad I got opportunities to take part in conferences, courses and programs related to sustainability. Throughout this trip two things lured me the most i.e. the concepts of sustainability and the idea of market based approach to development. I attended 'Youth Encounter on Sustainability (YES Course)' in March 2009 in Tokyo which was one of the inspiring courses that has influenced my initiatives. During the time an idea emerged in my mind to start-up ‘Development Voyage’ with an aim to instil sustainability concepts into the market and communities of Nepal. Development Voyage thus initiated this project to link sustainable products from community producers to the market.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

In the initial phase of our project we have met the following positive progresses:

1. Community Engagement: In partnership with ‘Youth in Sustainable Development’ project of USSHA Foundation, our project has been able to initiate the bio-dynamic farming and fish-farming cooperatives in Rivan Village since September 2010. These cooperatives have started their productions which Bazaar will be marketing. Besides, we are also exploring other communities from where sustainable products can be brought to the market.

2. Customers flow: Since the formal launching of Bazaar in November 2010, we are receiving satisfactory flow of customers. We are having around 15 to 20 visitors per day in average. We are also conducting a market research to study the level of understanding and status of our potential customers regarding the sustainable products.

3. Funding support: After initiating Bazaar we have been successful to receive hybrid fund support of Euro 30,000.00 from ACACIA, Basel and GLS Foundation, Germany. This support has helped us a lot to strengthen our financial base to meet our objectives.

4. Partnerships: We have also been able to establish partnership with various local NGOs like Annapurna Area Conservation Project (ACAP), producers groups like Fair-Trade Group (FTG), Nepal etc.

We will measure achievements of our project in two levels: (I) Market performance, and (II) returns to its developmental missions.
The indicators of market performance of the project are number of costumers visiting our store per week, total number of community producers, cooperatives etc. we partnered with, sales per week etc. The indicators of returns to its development missions are number of people directly or indirectly employed by the project, number of products and product categories bearing sustainability values, initiatives towards conversion of normal producers into sustainable productions etc. We monitor and evaluate these indicators by tracking our weekly sales/purchase reports, list of products suppliers, interactions with stakeholders etc. and prepare progress reports every six months of operation. These progresses made are included in the sustainability report prepared at the end of each fiscal year.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Over the next three years our project will evolve with venturing into more products line and community producers from around Nepal. At the moment we are directly working with one community i.e. Rivan and few other producer groups like Fair-Trade Group of Nepal and Women Skill Development Project. We also plan to reach around 5 different communities and more than 15 producer groups/cooperatives. We will open 2 additional stores in other cities of Nepal. This would help us to increase our customer base while creating wider market opportunities to community producers and easy access of sustainable products to customers of other areas. We also expect to extend our networks with like-minded stakeholders to establish our mission of promoting sustainable products to middle class families.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The barriers that might hinder the success of our project are: i) understanding of the middle class population about sustainable products and their value-added benefits, ii) skills and knowledge of community producers regarding sustainable production methods, and iii) quality and brand of local productions.

To address and overcome these barriers we are recently conducting a marketing research in Pokhara, Nepal. This is a new research field in Pokhara. The area covered by this research are if our targeted population has any idea regarding the eco/bio/organic productions, fair-trade etc., if they have bought any of such products in last few months, where do they find those products, if they would like to know more about sustainable productions, what will help them to choose local products over other commercial products etc. We are very expectant that the result of this research will guide us a lot to address the issues of understanding of the middle class population of Pokhara regarding sustainable products. For addressing the second issue we have already worked on directly with the community and engaged them in trainings and orientations about organic farming and fair-trade. As an example we have formed farmers cooperative in Rivan and provided them regular training before they go into the productions. So, in the long run we will take similar steps to address this issue. For quality and branding we will train the community producers as well as our staffs in the methods of quality control. We are also working together with experts and stakeholders to develop certain criteria control the quality of our products and services. We will also try to certify the products with organic/bio or fair-trade certification with the relevance.

Tell us about your partnerships

We are partnering with various organizations in four different levels:

1. Production and Community Engagement: The primary partners in this sector are Village Development Committee, Rivan, Youth Clubs in Rivan, USSHA Foundation Nepal, One World Alc. and Eco-Center Nepal. We are partnering with USSHA Foundation for education, training and formation of cooperatives in Rivan Village for bio-dynamic farming and fish-farming. One World and Eco-Center are providing us the technical and knowledge based support in the community engagement for productions. We are trying to develop ‘Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)’ between our project and USSHA Foundation to work together in long run in sustainable production sector in other communities of Nepal as well. The District Agriculture Office (DAO) of Government of Nepal has also supported financially and technically in the fish-farming initiatives in Rivan. Likely, we are partnering with other producers group like The Association of Craft Producers, Members of Fair-Trade Group of Nepal etc. from where we are bringing local products which are already fair-trade certified. We are working closely with the bigger NGOs like Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) to explore and build-up production linkage with other communities around Pokhara region.

2. Networking and Promotion: We are partnering with IDEM Network, Basel, Nepal Tourism Board, Pokhara Chapter, Change Fusion Nepal for networking and promoting our vision. As IDEM Network is the project partner of Rivan project, it has supported us to build-up partnership in Europe for fund raising and project promotion. We were able to secure funds for Bio-dynamic Farming and Fish Farming in Rivan as well as partnership with ACACIA and GLS Foundation was through IDEM Network.

3. Market Research and Development: We are working directly with Global Entrepreneurs, Netherlands and Pokhara University, School of Management for conducting marketing research. Global Entrepreneurs has also supported us in business plan development and international match-making.

4. Funding: ACACIA, Basel, GLS Foundation, Germany are our funding partners. These two organizations has supported us Euro 30,000.00 as a soft loan to establish our Bazaar and strengthen ourselves in market.

Explain your selections

We initiated our project by receiving financial support from our friends and family members. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to take the first steps necessary for the start-up of our organization and then Bazaar project. National NGOs like USSHA Foundation and International NGOs like ACACIA/IDEM have helped to build-up networks both in community level and international scale to secure funding and promote our ideas. Nepali NGOs have also supported us to understand the value-chain, sustainable production methods, community engagement and business development ideas.

After we initiated Bazaar and started receiving customers we have been supported by them as well. Specially, as being the new business of its kind, they are providing us the ideas and experiences to develop and maintain quality in our services. Some of the customers have also linked us with the innovative local products, producer groups and other organizations working in the field.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We would like to strengthen our project over the next three years through networking, community engagement and multiplying our stores. First of all, we would like to strengthen our existing networks and partnerships in different levels and also develop new partnerships with like-minded stakeholders which will provide us a strong base in our business growth. This will also strengthen our capacity, expertise and presence in the market as well as address the policy issues where necessary. We will also work with our diverse networks to aware/educate both the producers and the middle-class consumers regarding the value-added benefits of sustainable products and their positive impact in the health, environment and societies. Next we would like to explore other communities, community producers, groups and organizations to strengthen our sustainable products base. We will develop our partnership with community stakeholders to engage the producers and promote the ideas of sustainable production while strengthening the community innovations. Finally, our strength is to market varieties of sustainable products to the middle class consumers. Hence, we would like to establish at least two more stores in next three years in other cities of Nepal. This will increase our customer base while promoting the sustainable products in wider market. In the long run we would like to go into franchising after measuring the successes of these few stores.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Restricted access to new markets

SECONDARY

Lack of skills/training

TERTIARY

Lack of visibility and investment

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Our innovation will tackle the barriers in following ways:
- The sustainable products in Nepal have two challenges; i) have no fair market linkage, ii) comparatively low brand and qualities which proves limited economic access for community producers. We will establish 'Bazaar' as market-outlet to tackle this barrier.
- The community producers lack skills and training to start sustainable productions to add-value to their products necessary to compete in the new market. We partner with other stakeholders to provide trainings to them.
- The community producers lack investment required to grow out of their existing production methods and market their products. Our project assist them to form cooperatives which supports individual producers with visibility as a group and also investments.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

SECONDARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

TERTIARY

Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

First, we want to grow our geographic reach within the host country by establishing stores in other cities to meet our aim of covering wider customers and exploring market opportunities for unreached community producers. Second, we want to add complementary services like tourism activities in our producers’ communities, cooperative shops in the rural areas etc. These ideas will enhance our impact in both producers and customers by adding value to our visions. Third, Asia being the biggest middle class market in the world we alone will not be able to reach to these vast markets. Therefore, we will partner with like-minded organizations for joint efforts to develop our ideas and scale-up our initiative within and outside the host country.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

We collaborate with government agencies, NGOs, for profit companies and universities. We have collaborated with the District Agriculture Office, a government body, in Pokhara. They have supported our ideas of establishing sustainable agriculture in Rivan. As government agencies are regulatory and policy making bodies our collaboration with them will help to advocate and lobby our vision. Our collaboration with NGOs have helped us to share the ideas, knowledge and skills required to understand sustainable production and consumption. We are collaborating with universities to receive educated youth working together with us to spread our ideas. For e.g. we are conducting ‘Market Research’ together with Pokhara University about sustainable products for domestic market and their usage.

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