Empowering women one spice at a time
It all started when...
On April 25, 2015 at 11:56 NPT, the epicenter of a massive earthquake ruptured in the Ghorka district of Nepal, just northeast of Kathmandu. Entire villages were reduced to rubble. All but a few had to confront the stark reality of a destroyed home or a relative declared missing. After weeks of grim tallies, nearly 9,000 people were confirmed dead with 3.5 million more left homeless.
As a former Nepali immigrant, I knew I had to do something to help. I returned to my country of origin and was quickly overwhelmed. Basic necessities were lacking. Clothing, water, and food access was insecure. To compound all this, Nepal was not in an economic position to quickly rebuild after a disaster of such magnitude. How could I help, being just one person?
One of the most efficient ways to effect change is to do something with compounding returns on investment. This makes it possible for limited resources to be leveraged for big impact. It is for this reason that I decided to focus on education. My non-profit organization, Act For Humanity Foundation, launched a scholarship program for students attending school in the Dhading district of Nepal. Students from grades 1 to 5 could receive funds for uniforms and school supplies through the program. I wanted to foster the next generation of engineers to build earthquake-resistant buildings, doctors to heal the sick and wounded, and business leaders to fund future disaster relief and economic development.
We were able to supply many scholarships the first year, and even more in the second. However, it quickly became apparent that our impact was limited by one crucial factor – donations. The number of scholarships we could give was 100% dependent on how much money we could raise through events, fundraisers, and direct contributions. We were changing lives – but could we do more?
Again, the themes of compounding returns and leverage returned to my mind. The non-profit organization needed its own economic engine, independent of charitable donations. No sooner had I learned about social enterprises than I knew what to do. We had to build a business with its own social mission that could be self-sustainable and fund the nonprofit. This is when the Nepali Spice Co. was formed.
NEPALI SPICE COMPANY
At the Nepali Spice Co., our mission is to foster economic empowerment for Nepali women living in the US and Nepal while providing a high-quality and unique flavor experience for spice lovers worldwide.
WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Empowering women empowers communities. According to unwomen.org, “Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth.” For many families in the poorest regions of Nepal, the men need to travel abroad for gainful employment. The women are left to take care of everything from growing crops and working to maintaining the home and making sure the children get adequate schooling. Economic empowerment for these women means gaining the opportunity to start a small business or attain higher wage jobs through skill development, leadership and financial training, and non-discriminatory hiring practices. Empowering women in the market increases the average household income, reducing the need for children to spend time on the farm and rather in class or studying for a better future. At the Nepali Spice Co., we source our spices exclusively from our partner company in Nepal which has a long track record of hiring impoverished women for fair wages with opportunities for skill and financial development.
The story is much the same in our own neighborhoods here in the U.S. There are about 2,000 Nepali refugees living in Lancaster County. Often, the skills gained for years working in Nepal are not recognized without certificates or degrees in the U.S., or are simply not applicable to available jobs. There is the substantial English language barrier, as well. Empowering women in this context often means re-training for a novel job market. At the Nepali Spice Co., we hire Nepali refugee women at fair wages while providing on-the-job skills training and sponsoring English language classes through an affiliate program.
Spice is a huge part of Nepali culture. It has a central place in many traditional dishes and is consumed almost daily when available. Everyone eats it, and most people even have experience growing or trading spice. Here at the Nepali Spice Co., we bring that same enthusiasm and deep tradition to our spices so you can explore new flavors and dishes or spice up your favorite traditional meal (pun fully intended). We source spice exclusively from the foothills of the Himalayas, using only the highest-quality spice grown using organic practices.
CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION
Everything we do is rooted in education. From providing skills and English-language training for refugees to writing about the many uses of spices, we care about building a better future through education. This all started with a desire to provide scholarships to children in the poorest regions of Nepal. That desire is stronger than ever. We pledge a portion of the profits from the Nepali Spice Co. to go to Act For Humanity Foundation for the scholarship program, which provides everything needed for students to attend school in Nepal.