Who: Akash Gurung, 23 (Nepal) and Jamon Mok, 24 (Singapore)
The problem: The two young men saw that while 25% of the world lives in poverty, micro financing has had limited success due to high interest rates and rigid repayment schedules. Entrepreneurs therefore are prevented from going beyond sole proprietorship. Many of them also lack the requisite skills to grow a business, so are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
Their solution: After three years of pilot projects, they have developed a framework to disburse micro-venture capital – the business competition. This allows local entrepreneurs the flexibility of equity financing and the benefits of knowledge, mentorship, networks, technologies and hope. Gazaab’s micro-social venture fund empowers and inspires people living in poverty to become social entrepreneurs.
On the ground: Five pilot runs in three communities across Nepal and India have started up 20 operational and profitable enterprises out of a total of 22 awarded. Preparations for a business competition in Phnom Penh in early 2014 is underway. They are also working on a complementary arm of the enterprise called Backstreet Academy, which involves working with local craftsmen and entrepreneurs to create authentic local experiences for tourists. These craftsmen and entrepreneurs are often near the poverty line and are sometimes exploited by employers. It is hoped that this service will help them to become independent and earn a much higher income.
How the funds will help: The S$10,000 will be used to kick start the development of Backstreet Academy, which will be launched in Kathmandu, Nepal, slated for December 2013.
Why they are doing this, in their own words:
“Gazaab is a Nepali word you would use when you're in 'awe'. In other words, it means ‘Awesome!’ When we first started off, we realized that small amounts of resources such as funding, mentorship, hope and inspiration could have such a huge impact on the lives of aspiring entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid... Knowing we have the power to make a difference and hence the responsibility is the primary driving force behind why we choose to do this every day.”
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