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Doing Development Differently: Nepal – Against the Grain Web Permissionless Innovation in Nepal

: AJ SKIERA : Atlas Network : July 15, 2019


If you’re lucky enough to live in the US, then starting a new business, at least the legal part of it, is pretty simple. But in countries like Nepal, it can be a real challenge, enough so that competitors can try to stifle innovation. So this guy, who has a mobile mill, can’t operate legally.

SummaryA thick fog blankets the wide expanse of farmland each morning in the small village of Sugauli Birta, an agrarian community near the Indian border of Nepal. There is an accompanying silence as women and men rise with the sun to work. Sugauli Birta is a 9-hour drive—or an 11-minute flight—from the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, and the region’s biodiversity is as robust as the work ethic of its people. Driving along winding roads through the Chure Hill range to the Terai plains, the hard work of the people living there is evident. Rice, wheat, sugarcane, and other crops form the foundation of the local economy.

The locals rely on agriculture not only for their livelihood but also for their own subsistence. It is the norm for many to travel several hours, lugging heavy sacks of grain, to mills that grind wheat and rice. This consumes many hours that might otherwise be put toward more life-enriching activity, but families need food, so mothers and fathers have no choice but to spend time and money—25 Nepalese Rupees (NPR, about $.20 USD) per 10 kilograms to grind their grain.

Up until recently, that was life in Sugauli Birta.

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