WOW | WOW Feature
Idea That Impact
WOW features four ideas that have a powerful way of touching people’s lives and making a difference.
Text By: Pabita Dahal
wow photo file © Ram Tandukar/Gokul Shrees
Utilising their free time after graduation, two enthusiastic girls – Jesselina Rana and Shubhangi Rana – launched a social business venture called Pad2Go in October 2018. Both are graduates from universities in India and were familiar with the concept of sanitary pad vending machines they had seen while studying there. They decided to use the same idea and provide similar machines to different organisations. The machine would dispense sanitary pads at an affordable price of Rs 10 per piece.
Currently they import the pad vending machine from India but are looking to manufacture it in the country. Their research showed them that Whisper and Jasmine brands were the most used sanitary pads in Nepal. They have collaborated with both brands to get the pads at a cheaper rate. Pad2Go contributes 15% of the profits from the vending machine and all profit from the pad sales to build the toilets in a school in Bajura in collaboration with an NGO called Saathi . “We selected Bajura because of the lowest literacy rate there”, explains Jesselina.
“The machine is very easy to use since it has a token system. It works without battery and electricity. There are various kinds of machines but we chose this type to ensure use even in remote rural Nepal,” she adds.
In 11 months of establishment, Pad2Go has sold 70 machines to schools, airlines, QFX cinemas, hotels and banks in provinces 1, 3, 4 and 5.
The machines are getting positive response from users. Sampada Bista, HR Executive of Hotel Shambala says, “We have been using the machine for six months and it is functioning well. It is user-friendly and has been very easy for our staffs and guests in an emergency situation.”
Pad2Go does not only distributes machines but also conducts awareness programs on social taboos of menstruation. They include both genders in their workshops for higher impact and understanding.
For its work, Pad2Go was chosen as one of the junior WASH case studies for the 35th Advancing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation through Inclusive Business Approaches Workshop, a week-long program in Spiez, Switzerland. They also won their first investment pitch to help scale their business as well as mentorship. Recently, Pad2Go has also been selected as one of the top ten finalists for a startup contest, Accelerate Her.
With its increasing popularity, Pad2Go is getting support from government and non- government sectors, and many youngsters are approaching them for collaboration which would be instrumental in helping the founders expand their service across Nepal.
Gyan Maharjan grew up observing his parents being beaten by relatives over small internal quarrels. His heart used to break into pieces especially seeing his mother being abused. As a teen, his saw his friend’s sister stop attending school due to harassment from the opposite sex. These incidents strengthened his resolve to do something for women’s rights. As a college student, he established X-Pose Nepal collaborating with his six friends in 2007. In 2014, X-Pose Nepal started working on menstrual hygiene and in 2015, they started to provide affordable reusable cloth sanitary pads for women. Today Gyan Maharjan is known as Nepal’s Pad Man.
Gyan’s colourful pads are made in three sizes: standard, medium, and large. The former two cost Rs 150 and the latter costs Rs 160, all hand-stitched with cotton and flannel fabric and made waterproof to avoid leakage. The pads can be washed and reused for up to two years. Maharjan trains women to make reusable pads. This helps them earn a regular income.
He does not only sell the pads but also spreads awareness about menstrual health by conducting interactive workshops in communities and schools. He has reached almost all government schools in Lalitpur district, and is now being approached by private schools too.
Gyan focuses his awareness program on boys also because he believes that females know about their bodies but men remain unknown and unconcerned about the taboos surrounding menstruation and unless they participate the taboos cannot be fully addressed.
His work has expanded beyond the valley to Nepalgunj and Rautahat. He now wants to work with local governments to create a wider outreach.
Clothing Bank Nepal
Six young people by the names Raymon Das Shrestha, Nischal Basnet, Max Khatri, Sisan Baniya, Nikun Shrestha and Shree Gurung started Clothing Bank Nepal to help victims of the disastrous earthquake in 2015. It operates as a voluntary Facebook page facilitating donation of used and new clothes donation in different parts of rural Nepal.
What began as a process of collecting, sorting and dispatching clothes later turned into a project where the clothes are recycled into blankets and mattress as the transportation and logistics were not practical just donating clothes without knowing if it actually met the requirements of the receiver. Now when they distribute the blankets and bedding, people are equally happy. “We announce the collection right after the festivals and convert the clothes into blankets and mattress (Sirak and Dasna) and distribute with the help of volunteers in needy areas,” explains Shree Gurung.
The process is very simple. The admins call for volunteers during the collection time, recycling process and distribution period and anyone can participate. It is a voluntary movement and the more helping hands, the better.
Curry Without Worry
Curry Without Worry is a Kathmandu based non profit, non-political and non-religious organisation. It has been serving food to hungry and needy people for the last nine years. With a belief that hunger creates anger, elimination of hunger is necessary, it feeds over 300 hungry people every Tuesday evening at Paropakar Bridge, Bhimsensthan.
Shrawan Nepali was raised as an orphan in Paropakar Anarthlaya and he knows what it means live on an empty stomach. He is resident of USA now and is fulfilling the hunger of street people through Curry Without Worry in San Francisco. During a visit home, he decided to establish Cuury Without Worry in Nepal in 2011. Initially, Shrawan sponsored all the meals. Now the responsibility has shifted to the team with current President Sailendra Kumar Shrestha and board members serving food through self sponsorship. Coming to their aid however are many generous people who sponsor food on the occasion of their birthday, wedding anniversary, death ritual, etc. If there is no one to sponsor, the organisation dips into its reserve fund.
They have already served more than 2,250,000 plates of meal. The team has observed great change over the years among people who come to eat in Paropakar Bridge. “Initially, people used to come drunk. Nobody wanted to queue up and they would quarrel to get the food. But we know that hunger and anger are interdependent and treated them with love and care. Now we can see the transformation in them. They line up themselves. Many of them are polite and grateful for the food they receive. They are socially motivated and some are looking for jobs. This is a big motivation for us,” shares president of the organisation, Shailendra.
Curry Without Worry is on a mission to rescue, educate, skill and integrate homeless people into society. “We are all human beings. Let’s live with human dignity. Love and care are powerful weapons to bring positive change. We need support from everybody for this cause,” concludes Shailendra.