In rural areas of Nepal, resources are barely utilized though found in abundant amount whether it was vegetables, milk and so on. But at the time when those resources get utilized, they become the source of creation of wealth and employment. Consider the example of vegetables. In rural areas the vegetables were not considered much worthy in the past, but when the same vegetables entered the era of commercialization, they not only became the worthy but also the source of wealth and employment. And the same case is with fallen out leaves in the rural villages, but not now. In Dailekh, five young students: Dilu Shrestha, Mina Shahi, Bhagwati Regmi, Delim Regni, and Urmila Neupane took the courage to turn those fallen leaves in fortune. Here is short conversation about their courage and journey.
Elaborate your idea.
Ours idea is a common one but we took the same common idea and implemented it courageously unlike others. In our village, fallen leaves were unused. For people the leaves were just like a burden because the more the leaves the more they have to clean. But they never thought of using the leaves. But we took the courage to convert the leaves into degradable plates: Duna tapari. These plates can replace the modern the plastic plates which are much expensive and harmful to the environment. Duna Tapari will not only eradicate the piles of leaves but also create the local employment. Along with that people can also feel the sense of local culture and tradition. Unlike the plastic plates, these plates can be decomposed and changed into composure.
Who are your prospective customers?
Duna Tapari were considered much valuable in the past. But with the growing modernization, people became much inclined towards plastic plates because they showed a sense of modernization and socially well off. But now, people are much inclined towards localization. People prefer to use local products because they are clean, pure, trustworthy, and healthy. Consequently, we too are getting the advantage of localization. Till now out primary customers are street vendors like Chatpate Sellers and local canteens. But along with that, we also get demand during social festivals like feats and weddings. Nowadays, demand of duna tapari is overwhelming because of local cultural significance.
What are the challenges you have faced so far in promoting this business?
At the very beginning, convincing people to use our product instead of modern plastic plates was the greatest challenge. People would make fun of us. However, some people would encourage us to carry out what we were doing. Secondly, we require some people to collect leaves: leaves collector which is the toughest job. Because people in our society look down upon those jobs and so the hiring of people of those profession is immensely tough. Moreover, preparation of duna tapari does not require much manpower and money so the new entrants to our field is easy, which is really a matter of great threat to us. Anyone with simple skills can do this job. Lastly, our products are hand-made which is a bit time consuming. If we had been able to get some kinds machines to create plates, our works would have been much effective and fast. The delivery of our products would have been super easy.
How do you plan to expand your venture?
At the moment we are trying to convince more people to use our products. Now we are attempting to carry out door-to-door campaign to make the people aware of the benefits of leaves plates. The major reason we are unable to get the better market is because of the unawareness among people about the harmful consequences of plastic plates. At the same time, people are unable to compare the market rate of the plastics plates and ours product. Currently, the price of a dozen of duna tapari is around NRs. 60 on average depending on the size of the plate. The price of ours product is similar to the plastic plates. Once we convince the people to compare the price of the plates and environmental advantages of the plates, we are sure we would be able to get a good place in the market. Simultaneously, we have also tied up with some organizations and businesses.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The most pressing issue throughout the world is global warming i.e. climate change. With the growing environmental pollution, our country, Nepal, will be affected the most as our is an agricultural country. The use of plastic products is overwhelming which the major contributor of climate change. Via the use of duna tapari, we are confident that we will be able to reduce the use of plastics products if not eradicate. Along with that we are trying to enhance cleanliness in Dailekh so that we can promote tourism in our district and town. Furthermore, we too can create the employment opportunities in our own locality along with promotion of local cultures and tradition.
What was the rssssole of Social Business Challenge 2018 on your product?
In our country, there are very limited institutions to promote local products at national level. May be because of more profit and pride for multinational company products! We must admit that because of Yunus Social Business Challenge, we got the opportunity to promote our product at national level. At the challenge, we got monetary prize of NRs. 50000 which was great for us. The challenge holds great significance for us not only because of monetary aid but also because of its exposure that it gave us. Initially, we were a bit shy about presenting our products because we thought people would look down upon us. Furthermore, we got the opportunity to get training and mentoring from experienced professionals about expanding our business in the near future.