Transforming communities through responsible business

Transforming communities through responsible business

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Our mission is to help foster the growth of independent, self-sufficient women by encouraging self-empowerment by providing education and technical skills followed by employment opportunities from our sister for-profit organization “3 Sisters”.
Our mobile sustainable Ecotourism trainings held in the Karnali region help the locals to develop this region economically.
Responding to the gross inequ

About You
Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN)
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name


Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


Organization Name

Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN)

Organization Phone

+977 (0) 61 462231

Organization Address

Lakeside 6, Pokhara, Nepal

Organization Country
How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
What makes your innovation unique?

EWN aims to provide knowledge and skills to the local communities ensuring them a better, more optimistic future in a sustainable way. Each person has it’s own particular strengths and talents, but many Nepali women have never had the opportunity to discover this fact and develop her/his talents and skills. Living in isolated mountainous areas is a very hard and physically challenging life. Most of them, especially women are poorly educated, literacy levels are low and their life expectancy is well below mens’. They need opportunities and moral support.

Being given the chance to discover their own hidden talents increases their self-confidence and gives them hope for their future. Female trekking guides were previously unheard of in Nepal.

Through EWN/3Sisters work, we have introduced a new profession in adventure tourism for women. While 3 Sisters promotes new trekking routes in west Nepal, we work with communities along these routes, advising them how to develop amenities for sustainable Ecotourism, while improving their own standards of lives and protecting their culture/environment. We encourage them to take control of their lives and decide for themselves what needs to be done. We are working in the remote Karnali region in west Nepal, which is the poorest region of Nepal. We aim to develop this region as a sustainable trekking destination.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

Women are empowered through participation to our training programs: acquire income-earning skills; interact with the world, discover their own strengths (critically important in a culture where women have been consistently marginalized), show visible changes in confidence, independence, professional skills. Conducted by Nepali women, for Nepali women, the training has been very effective and has generated change (better health/hygiene/education) while promoting positive traditions (food/clothing/housing). Travelers appreciate the authentic Nepali living and best practices.
The training programs have developed keen interest among women wanting to be involved in tourism and benefit from the income-earning opportunities.

In 2008 EWN opened an office in Jumla, west Nepal, to reach as many women as possible, particularly in more isolated mountain communities where skills-based trainings in ecotourism would particularly benefit women with no previous access to education, training and income-earning.

While 3 Sisters promotes new trekking routes in west Nepal, EWN provides training courses along these new routes.

The training courses in sustainable ecotourism have trained over 150 women in food preparation, health, hygiene, and waste disposal resulting in clear, visible improvements in health and sanitation with communities organizing ongoing village cleanups. Local communities take the initiative, forming district tourism committees, building trails, asking EWN/3Sisters for advice setting up guidelines to promote sustainable tourism development. A resident of Ghare in west Nepal, where we are working with local people to set up a community-run lodge, has attended an EWN lodge management course in Pokhara. 3Sisters provide income-earning opportunities by hiring local trekking staff.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Responding to the gross inequality of women in Nepal, EWN offers unprecedented opportunities for women from poor, isolated mountainous regions in west Nepal to improve their quality of life.

Following a research on the Karnali region, west Nepal in 2003, EWN decided to focus on three major areas of need, which are:

• Cultivation and local food variation (yearly food shortage and lack of variation in cultivation)
• Health (many women and children are dying from lack of healthy atmosphere)
• Alternative Income Resources

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?

Our “Women Initiation in Ecotourism” mobile trainings include the following topics:

• Raising awareness on the opportunity of tourism to generate alternative incomes
• Health and sanitation, including women’s health
• How to include variation in local food and cultivation
• Environmental best practices
• Improving the traditional food, culture and lifestyle but avoiding the uncontrolled growth, which has characterized previous developments in Nepal.

Promoting ecotourism helps the locals to get involve in tourism without losing their cultural identities or damaging the environment. EWN is promoting this destination by organizing a trek called “Women trek for peace and development”.

Political instability (which has a strong influence on tourism), lack of funding and lack of locals' and government's participation and initiatives could prevent our success.

EWN/3Sisters are exploring/promoting new trekking routes from Pokhara to Humla in west Nepal, covering 6 districts where we will provide training programs and work with local communities to establish a model for positive, sustainable geotourism with minimum negative impact. We will encourage Nepali trekking agencies to operate treks in these undeveloped areas to alleviate poverty and employ trained women (not just men). We are organising development of west Nepal tourism maps/brochures. Each year we organise promotional treks to publicise these destinations.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

Year 1: 200 underprivileged women trained in trekking and tourism.
Year 2: 50% of the above trained women will become actively involved in the tourism industry.
Year 3: Increase of tourism in the Karnali region, leading to economical development of the region.
We will organise study tours for groups from west Nepal to see how tourism has developed in the Annapurnas

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

Local communities take the initiative, forming district tourism committees, building trails, asking EWN/3Sisters for advice setting up guidelines to promote sustainable tourism development.
The government is now interested in tourism development in west Nepal, providing funds to each district. Mugu and Jumla districts in west Nepal have already established district level tourism committees, involving people from all levels of the community.

What stage is your Social Enterprise in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your Social Enterprise

• Partnership with our sister for-profit organization 3 Sisters Adventure trekking is critical to support our projects.
• Grants are also a major financial support to our organization, especially for the west Nepal Ecotourism trainings.
• Donations are mostly allocated to our children’s home (financing education, healthcare, food & accommodation).
• All the money received from winning various competitions and awards are directly used to fund EWN’s trainings.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Female Trekking Guide Training is fully funded by 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking’s earned revenue as well as individual private donations. New client business continues growing with strong repeat business, ensuring future funding. EWN’s other training programs and west Nepal office are currently funded by outside sponsors. However, once best practices have been learnt/adopted within communities over some years they should become an integral part of communities continuing in use without further help, effectively becoming self-sustaining with only occasional follow-up courses required. A good example is Annapurna Conservation Area Project – started 1986, it was self-sustaining in approximately 10 years. There is a continuing demand for training programs.
15/20 % of 3 Sisters' profit is allocated to EWN.
80% of our budget comes from grants and donations
0% comes government subsidies

Total Budget: Approx US$ 70,000

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Trekking tourism is a huge industry in Nepal thanks to the Himalayas, but in the early 1990s women trekking guides were unheard of in a male dominated profession. Women worked hard behind the scenes, but control, ownership and money were in the men's hands. On the other hand, women travelers came from all over the world, while women in Nepal could not even work openly in tourism because of the damage that would occur to their reputation.

We started a guesthouse in Pokhara and heard women travelers complaining of harassment by male guides and porters. They asked us to guide them. As a trained mountaineer, I and my two sisters started 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking to provide a service run by women for women. However, there were not enough women guides to satisfy demand, because this was an unknown profession for women.

Slowly women started asking us for jobs, but due to lack of education, knowledge and skills were not able to guide. Women from mountainous areas in west Nepal are especially disadvantaged due to extreme poverty, surviving in remote, harsh environments. These women are physically strong, used to working all day carrying heavy loads yet earning nothing. We believed they could be excellent trekking guides, earning good money and learning at the same time.

Training was needed for these women to give them the necessary skills and knowledge to work as trekking guides. We founded EWN to continue this training and designed a curriculum to meet these requirements.

Realizing that women needed to gain experience in the field, we introduced the new concept in Nepal of skills-based training. 3 Sisters provides a paid apprenticeship facility for the women to practice their new-found skills and gain confidence, while also earning money. The women attend as many training courses as necessary until they qualify as guides, allowing each woman to learn at her own pace.
Following the success and continued interest in our trekking guide training programs, we

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

After obtaining a Bachelor degree in Arts in Darjeeling India, Lucky Chhetri moved to Kathmandu to pursue her studies. In Kathmandu, she was given the opportunity to work for an NGO (1986-87). She was assigned to work in western Nepal and was shocked to see how miserable and destitute the rural women’s lives were. She longed to do something to support them. A few years later, she attended the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute’s program, which changed her life. While running a guesthouse in Pokhara (1993-1994) with her two other sisters, solo women travelers complained about harassment from male guides and porters. When they heard about Lucky’s mountaineering experience, they asked her to guide them in the Himalayas. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking was born, followed by Empowering Women of Nepal – Lucky was finally able to help the rural women of Nepal.
Lucky Chhetri is a regular speaker at (inter)national seminars and workshops on the topic of women empowerment. She has been nominated as advisor to the Nepal Tourism Year 2011 and is regularly appointed as a consultant by many international organizations.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Personal contact at Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information