Feb 1, 2017

30 Businesses that you can start for less than the cost of an iPhone

Once in a while, I get invited to talk about entrepreneurship to college students and youth groups. I generally talk about the economy of Nepal, the high unemployment rates, the need for youth to embrace entrepreneurship, and some myths and realities surrounding entrepreneurship. Most of the time, after the talk, the students come up to me and say, "I am inspired. I had always wanted to do something on my own. But the problem is I don't have money and my parents won't give me the capital I need to start my business." And a little while later, those same students can be seen talking on their shiny smartphones, most of the time, an iPhone. I have been annoyed, disappointed, and sad at times to see them not realizing the fact that if you truly want to be an entrepreneur, you don't need a truckload of money. Even the greatest of the businesses that we see around started small. Then, I proceed on to tell them a number of businesses that they could have started for the cost of that iPhone. Similarly, I have noticed several threads in the Entrepreneurs for Nepal group on Facebook asking about business ideas that can be started with a small amount of money. Therefore, I decided to list down a few businesses that were started with a small or no investment. I also asked around my entrepreneur friends to know how much they invested initially while starting their businesses. 

I have managed to come up with 30 business ideas that can be started for less than the cost of an iPhone (around 1 Lakh Nepalese Rupees). They are applicable in the context of Nepal. I think some of them are applicable elsewhere as well. If I have missed any idea or underestimated the cost of a particular, please let me know by commenting below. I will add the good ideas that I receive from you. I hope this will be useful for aspiring entrepreneurs of Nepal and abroad.

Here are the ideas in no particular order:

1. Audio-Visual Company 
I can confirm that this idea works because I have done it. With my two friends, I started Onion Films Nepal in 2011 with practically no capital. We utilized Govinda's photography and videography skills Bibhu's hard work and my communication skills and network to start the company. We drew on the support of our friends and families to organize a workshop on movie-making for young people and used the saved money to organize more workshops. Later on, we used the saved money to formally start the company and used the network of our graduates to get clients.

If you have good photography and videography skills and an interest in visual media, this is the idea for you!

2. Translation and Research Agency
This idea works too. Nikunja Bhandari and I came up with the idea of starting a translation agency when we observed the increasing demand for good translators and content developers, especially in the non-profit sector. We used our networks to find our first client who gave us the assignment of translating their brochure. Working for a few more organizations, we saved enough money to formally register the company which we named Nepal Language and Research Solutions.

If you have good language skills and good research experience, this is the idea for you.

3. Online Shopping
Online shopping sites are increasing exponentially in Nepal and I think the market is yet to be saturated. I know a few people who have been making a good deal of money by opening a Facebook page, hunting for cheapest prices and selling them through the page. If you can cater to niche markets there is still a good enough market for yet another online business. 

4. Rabbit Farming
Photo Credit: Jessica Reeder
As Ujjwal Chapagain of The Himalayan Rabbit Farm points out, rabbit farming can be started on a
small scale for as little as Rs. 50,000. By the way, he is also very happy to help you out if you are interested in this.

5. Website Design and Development
Have good website designing and programming skills? Just make a website, offer to make websites for free or low cost for a few clients, make a portfolio and off you go!

6. Graphic Designing 
Either there is a shortage of good graphic designers or I am looking at the wrong place, If you have good graphic design skills, you can just start designing stuff, put up your portfolio and seek out clients. As organizations are getting more and more brand conscious and thousands of businesses are being started every day, the need for graphic designing is only going to increase.

7. Social Media Management
If you love hanging out in the social media networks and are good at handling them, why not start managing social media profiles of organizations and celebrities?

8. Event Management
We used to conduct a workshop on entrepreneurship at Samriddhi Foundation, event management was one of the most popular business ideas among our graduates. And most of them are successful and running till date.

9. Mo:mo Pasal
Nepalese insatiable desire for quality Mo: Mo is ever increasing and there is a growing demand for shops serving authentic momos. If you have a knack for making authentic, mouth-watering momos, this may be what you are looking for. There is also quite a space for experimentation and discovery of new momo varieties.

10. Beekeeping
Rent a piece of land in the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley or outside the valley, build a few hives and off you go! Various entrepreneurship-related programmes of donor agencies in Nepal have also been providing support to beekeeping. If you have any questions on how to start, Anil Parajuli might be able to help you.

Photo Credit: Nepal Mountain News
11. Mushroom Farming
Gone are the days when mushrooms were only collected in the wild, mushroom farming is growing leaps and bounds these days. Although the capital requirement is not high and the rate of return is good, you will need to have a good technical knowledge of the farming techniques. Don't worry, though. You can get the knowledge easily and on your own. Saroj Karki might be able to answer your questions if you have any, Here is an example of successful mushroom farming that was started for little money.

12. YouTube Channel
If you have any specific skills such as cooking, programming, writing, playing a musical instrument, foreign languages that other people might find interesting, then you can start a YouTube channel, post original and helpful content and start making money from ads.

Photo Credit: Homegrown.co.in
13. Secondhand Bookshop
An online, as well as a physical secondhand bookshop would be a great idea to start with less capital.
There is a demand for the secondhand course as well as non-course books, especially the novels. There are a few such shops in Jamal and Putalisadak and there are lots of street booksellers in front of  NAC building in Sundhara. If you could establish that has as many books but with the more welcoming environment, I am sure people will flock to your shop.

14. Tuition Center
The majority of my friends got their first salary by providing tuition classes. If you are good at and love teaching, you can start a tuition center, provide good services, and expand. You can also combine this idea with the idea of YouTube Channel and provide a few classes for free through YouTube and attract students to your classes.

Photo Credit: TNAU Agritech Portal
15. Poultry Farming
Poultry farming is booming in Nepal. It is estimated that around 3.5 percent of the GDP is contributed by this sector and around 65 billion rupees has already been invested. Because of this boom, Nepal has become self-sufficient in poultry products. For you as an aspiring poultry farmer, what this means is that most of the support mechanism that you will need are in place already. All you need is to start! Check out this video to get an idea on how to start.

16. Homestay Tourism
If you come from a beautiful village and have a house that has a great view, you could start homestay tourism. Just renovate your house, add a few facilities the tourists will like and you are good to go. It will definitely help if you can convince your neighbors in the village to do the same. Saurav Dhakal might be able to help you on this.

17.  Rooftop Farming
On the other hand, if you are an urbanite and have a house in Kathmandu, you could start a rooftop farming of organic vegetables and selected fruits. With the growing concerns of the use of pesticide in commercially farmed vegetables and fruits, people are seeking organic and healthier vegetables and fruits. Why not start a rooftop farming and maybe help your neighbors to do the same? If you need expert's assistance, these guys can help. 

18. Vegetable Farming
As mentioned earlier, the demand for organic and pesticide free vegetables is growing. Therefore,
you can start a full-fledged vegetable farming as well. You can rent a land in the outskirts of Kathmandu or a district just outside the valley and start growing vegetables that are in demand in the valley.

19. Lunch Box 
With more and more people entering the formal workforce and lifestyle getting busier, the demand for services that deliver lunch to the offices is increasing. If you are good at cooking, you can start delivering lunches to offices. You can start this from home initially and expand later on.

20. Delivery Business
By the way, lunch boxes are not the only thing that you can deliver. Businesses delivering all sorts of goods or helping people and offices shift places is also increasing. You can hire a vehicle, coordinate the delivery or shifting process and build a business doing that.

21. Travel and Tours Company
There are tons of travel and tours companies catering to international tourists. Therefore, I don't think
it makes sense to establish another one of similar nature. However, there is a market for domestic tourists too, especially the college students. You can start a company specializing on conducting educational, industrial, and recreational tours for colleges and universities.

22. Meat Shop
With the growing income of Nepalese, the meat consumption is on the rise. It is estimated that Kathmandu Valley alone consumes 20 million rupees worth of meat daily. And it is increasing rapidly. If you can ensure good hygiene and quality in your shop, I am sure your business will grow steadily.

23. Vegetable Shop
As discussed above, the demand for organic and healthy vegetables is growing day by day. Although there are countless vegetables shops and vendors, if you could ensure that your vegetables are organic and free of pesticides, there is a business opportunity. By the way, you could also add the service of home delivery of the vegetables.

24. Online News Portal
As you must have noticed, online news portals are spreading like an epidemic these days in Nepal. Easy to set up and compete, online news portal could be your thing if you are a student of journalism or media or if you have already been working for a media house but want to start something on your own. I think, now it's time for specific online news portals as there are too many general news portals already. By the way, I have compiled a list of 20 most popular news portals of Nepal here. 

25. Photography Services
From wedding photography to product photography, demand for photography services is on the rise. The growth of e-commerce sites, as well as online news portals, has fueled the demand. I think, its the best time to take up photography and harnessing your visual communications skills.

26. Music Lessons
If you are good at playing an instrument or creating music, you can offer your lessons for a fee. By
Photo Credit: Andrew Yee
the way, there is a growing demand for Nepali music composition for movies and documentaries, even for short videos. Many times our clients have asked us to put a Nepali music on the soundtrack of the videos we were making for them. It was quite difficult to find original compositions, though.

27. Street Food Stall
If you have good cooking skills, you could take them to the street in a food stall. From Pani Puri, Shyabhale, Momo to Burger, you could sell any food items on a mobile stall these days. And guess what, many of these street food vendors are making more money than office employees in any sector. Maybe you can come up with newer food items to sell on the street!

28. Selling Organic Food Produce
If your family or your neighbors in your village have been growing organic food products, you could collect from all of them and sell them in the cities or through online. You can learn from Green Growth started by Saurav Dhakal.

29. Marketing and Research
If you have a BBA/MBA degree or a good research experience, you can start a marketing and research firm. Start with small clients who are looking for cheaper options, provide them a great service, and use their recommendations to climb higher. You can also come up with a great informative/entertaining product to build your brand like Facts Nepal did with its daily infographics.

30. Bag Manufacturing
Have you ever come across Shivakoti Bags? It is one of the rapidly growing brands of Nepal. The business was started by two Shivakoti brothers with a capital of around NRs. 50,000 (~500 USD) around one and a half decade ago. Now, their annual transaction is over 4 Crore Nepalese rupees. You could do this too!

That's all from me! Please add your ideas by commenting below! 

Dec 25, 2016

भार बिर्साउने भैरवकुण्ड

दुई वर्षअघिको दसैँमा नुम्बुर चिज सर्किटको पदयात्रा गर्दा चार दिनसम्म पूरै मानवरहित निर्जन जंगल, फाँट, नदीकिनार र हिमालको फेदमा बसेको अनुभव लिइयो । यसपालि त्यस्तै लहडले हामीलाई उत्तरी सिन्धुपाल्चोकको भैरवकुण्ड पदयात्रामा डोर्‍यायो । समुद्री सतहदेखि ४ हजार २ सय ५० मिटरको उचाइमा अवस्थित कुण्ड हाम्रो गन्तव्य थियो । तर, प्रवद्र्धन अभावका कारण पर्यटक कम जाने क्षेत्र भएकाले पूर्वाधारहरू खडा भइनसकेकाले आठ दिनसम्म लाग्ने पदयात्राको कम्तीमा दुई दिन जंगलमै टेन्ट खडा गरेर बस्नुपथ्र्यो । 

१७ असोजमा काठमाडौँको पुरानो बसपार्कबाट जलवीरेको बस चढैसँगै पाँच जनाको हाम्रो टोलीले भैरवकुण्ड यात्रा सुरु गरेको थियो । करिब पाँच घन्टाको यात्रापश्चात् गाडीले जलवीरेभन्दा केही टाढा ढाडेबजार भन्ने ठाउँसम्म पुर्‍याइदियो । जलवीरेबाट अघि बढ्दा मध्याह्नको टन्टलापुर घाम थियो । तर, बाटो साह्रै रमणीय हुँदा घामले पोलेको पनि पत्तो पाइएनछ । तलपट्टि गर्जंदै बगिरहेको खोला, हरिया पहाड, थुम्काथुम्कामा बसेका वस्ती र बाटोमा भेटिने ठूला झरना भेट्दा थप के चाहिन्थ्यो र ?

थकाइ मार्दै, फोटो खिच्दै र झरनामा नुहाउँदै हिँडेको हामी साँझ ४ बजेतिर चनौटे पुग्यौँ । गाँस र बास पाइने आशमा लम्केका हामी तब झस्कियौँ, जब त्यहाँको अलिक ठूलो वस्ती भूकम्पपछि केही घरमा सीमित भएको रहेछ । त्यहीँको एक घरमा चिया र भोगटे खान त पाइयो तर बास पाउने अवस्था थिएन । बासका लागि हामी अझ माथि रहेको कात्तिके बजार पुग्यौँ । 

दोस्रो दिन सबेरै कात्तिके बजारबाट ठाडो उकालो लाग्यौँ खानीगाउँतिर । घना जंगलबीचको सानो गोरेटो बाटो ठाडो उकालो लाग्दै जाँदा टाढाटाढा थुम्कामा हरिया खेतले घेरेका ब्यूँभँmदै गरेका वस्ती साह्रै मनमोहक देखिन्थे । राजधानीबाट नजिक रहेर पनि सडक नपुग्नाले होला, किसानहरू अझै पनि हलो जोतेरै खेती गरिरहेका देखिन्थे ।

१ बजेतिर बल्ल डल्लेपोखरी पुग्यौँ । ठाउँको नाम त्यहाँ देखिने गोलाकार पोखरीबाटै जुरेको रहेछ । त्यहाँ हामीसँग एक जना वृद्ध गफिन आए । 

“बाबुहरू कता हिँड्नुभयो ?”
“हामी भैरवकुण्ड हिँडेका ।”
“किन नि ?”
“यत्तिकै घुम्नलाई ।”
“अनि, कुइरे खै त तपाईंहरूको ?”
“छैन, हामी आफैँ हिँडेको घुम्नलाई ।”

उनीहरूलाई नेपाली पनि पर्यटक भएर घुम्न हिँड्छन् भन्ने कुरो पचाउन गाह्रो भइरहेको थियो । ती वृद्धले त्यसपछि आफ्नो गाउँको इतिहास सुनाए ।

उनीहरूको पुख्र्यौली वस्ती साँखुमा थियो रे ! जब पृथ्वीनारायण शाहले उपत्यका आक्रमण गरे र कब्जा गरे, तब उनको दमनबाट बच्नका लागि केही नेवारहरू भागेर खानीगाउँ पुगेका रहेछन् र त्यतै बस्न थालेछन् । गाउँनजिकै फलामको खानी पनि रहेछ । 

“हामी नेवार भए पनि नेवारी बोल्न भने आउँदैन । त्यसबेला भागेर यता आउँदा नेवारी बोल्यो भने पृथ्वीनारायण शाहका सेनाले समात्छन्, मार्छन् भन्थे रे ! त्यसपछि बिस्तारै नेवारी भाषा बोल्न छोड्दै गए हाम्रा पुर्खाले,” ती वृद्धले सुनाए । 

त्यस दिन हामी लेकमा रहेको शेर्पाहरूको गाउँ गोलु पुग्यौँ । थकान र जुकासँग लड्दैपड्दै गोधूलि साँझमा बल्ल गोलु पुगियो । हामीलाई कान्छी शेर्पाले ढिँडो, दूधबाट बनाइएको एक प्रकारको तरकारी र छुर्पी खुवाइन् । 

तेस्रो दिन भने कष्टकर रह्यो । अन्तिम वस्ती छोडिसकेपछि तीव्र गतिमा उचाइ बढिरहेको थियो । हाम्रो उद्देश्य उज्यालो होउन्जेल हिँड्ने र साँझमा उपयुक्त स्थान खोजेर टेन्ट लगाएर बस्ने योजना थियो । गाउँलेहरूले सल्ले, डालिन्चे भन्ने ठाउँ बाटोमा भेटिन्छ भनेका थिए तर न कुनै घर, न कुनै संकेत नै भेटियो । कुन ठाउँ कतिखेर काटियो, पत्तै भएन । जंगलबीच दोबाटो आउँदा झन् बढी सास्ती हुन्थ्यो । एकपटक एक घन्टा हिँडेपछि एउटा गोठ आएपछि पो हामीलाई बाटो बिराइएछ भन्ने पत्तो लाग्यो । तर, गोठमा भएका शेर्पिनी दिदी–बहिनीहरूले नुन हालेको चिया र छुर्पी खुवाएपछि चाहिँ बाटो बिराएकामा खासै पछूतो लागेन । 

गोठबाट ठाडो उकालो चढ्दा १५ मिनेटमै सही बाटो भेटिने रहेछ । एक जना भाइले हामीलाई सही बाटोसम्म पुर्‍याइदिए । त्यस दिन साँझ ५ बजेतिर जंगलभित्रैको एउटा सानो विश्रामस्थलमा बास बस्ने निर्णय गर्‍यौँ । अर्को एक घन्टा हिँडेको भए झन् रमणीय स्थल र राम्रो पाटी पुगिने रहेछ तर थाहा भएन । त्यसमाथि पानी दर्किन थाल्यो । जसोतसो रात काट्यौँ । 

चौथो दिन सबैभन्दा रोमाञ्चक भयो । आँखाले भ्याउन्जेलसम्म देखिने हिमशृंखला, हरिया चौर, तल देखिने थुम्काथुम्कामा रहेका मानव वस्तीका दृश्य कैद गर्ने प्रतिस्पर्धा नै चल्यो हामीमाझ । चोगरमोगर भन्ने ठाउँमा त हामीले करिब एक घन्टासम्म नै विभिन्न आसन र फ्रेममा तस्बिरहरू कैद गर्‍यौँ । मन नअघाए पनि समयको पाबन्दीका कारण हामी पुन: उकालो लाग्यौँ । 

चोगरमोगरबाट करिब दुई घन्टा चट्टानी बाटो हिँडेपछि आइपुग्यो, भैरवकुण्ड । त्यो सुन्दर पोखरी देखेपछि यात्राको कष्ट निमेशभरमै बिर्सियो । हामी छेउको चुचुरो चढेर भैरवकुण्डको सम्पूर्ण रूप हेर्न थाल्यौँ । चिसो बतासको चुम्बन, भैरवकुण्डको सुस्केरा र चराहरूको चिरबिर संगीतले दिएको आनन्द शब्दमा व्याख्या गर्नै सकिँदैन ।

यस कुण्डलाई शेर्पाहरूले भने छेमाङ पोखरी भन्दा रहेछन् । यहाँ जनै पूर्णिमा र नागपञ्चमीमा मेला लाग्ने गर्छ । चरा अवलोकनका लागि पनि विशेष ठाउँ रहेछ यो । कुण्डछेउ केही बेर निदाएपछि हामी उठेर लाग्यौँ आ–आफ्ना कामतर्फ । केहीले टेन्ट लगायौँ, केहीले दाउरा खोज्यौँ र केहीले पानी ओसार्‍यौँ । त्यसपछि सुप, कफी पकाएर खायौँ र केहीबेर अझै कुण्ड वरिपरि घुम्यौँ । क्षणभरमा स्पष्ट देखिने पोखरी क्षणभरमै कुहिरोले ढाकिहाल्ने । एक क्षणमा घाम टिलिक्क लागेको ठाउँमा पत्तै नपाइ पानी पर्न थाल्ने । साह्रै रमाइलो । 

पाँचौँ दिन सबेरैको किरणमाझ हिमाल पृष्ठभूमिमा राखेर फोटो खिच्नु र हिमाल हेर्नुको मज्जा बेग्लै थियो । त्यसपछि भने हामी फर्किने तरखरमा लाग्यौँ । ओरालो बाटोले साँझपख यार्मासिंह गाउँ पुर्‍यायो । त्यस दिन त्यहीँ बास बसेर छैटौँ दिन हामी लार्चा आइपुग्यौँ र त्यहाँबाट गाडी चढेर काठमाडौँ हिँड्यौँ, घरमै दसैँ मनाउने हतारो बोकेर ।

(सर्वप्रथम कार्तिक २४, २०७३ मा नेपाल साप्ताहिकमा प्रकाशित)

Nov 1, 2016

Business Model Canvas in Nepali

Business model canvas is a nifty tool for developing your business model or documenting your existing business model. It is widely being used in Nepal by aspiring entrepreneurs as well as by entrepreneurship educators and accelerators. Unfortunately, however, the canvas is available in English only preventing many Nepali speakers from accessing it and benefitting from it. Therefore, I have translated the canvas into Nepali language and I am sharing it here. You are welcome to use it for any purpose provided t
hat you give credit to me when using it.

I have uploaded a high-resolution version of the document jpg format. It is large enough to be printed on an A1 size paper. Click on the following links for the original size of the image:

1. Business Model Canvas in Nepali (1600X1066)
2. Business Model Canvas in Nepali (12000X8000)

Alternative link:

1. Business Model Canvas in Nepali

I advise you to right click above links and click "save target as" or "save linked content as" rather than trying to open up the image in the browser. The image being too large might crash your browser.

Enjoy and if you find it useful, please share with your friends!

Oct 18, 2016

१,००० सच्चा प्रशंसकहरू

(Nepali translation of Kevin Kelly's article "1,000 True Fans")

लङ् टेल  दुईवटा समूहका लागि अन्त्यन्त शुभ समाचार हो – अमेजन र नेटफ्लिक्सजस्ता थोरै भाग्यमानी समूहहकरू र ६ अर्ब उपभोक्ताहरू । मेरो विचारमा यी दुईमध्ये उपभोक्ताहरूको वर्गले ती असीमित मौकाहरूमा लुकेको धनबाट बढी प्रतिफल पाउँछ । 

तर सर्जकहरूका हकमा भने लङ् टेल निश्चितै रूपमा मिश्रित आशिष् हो । यस समीकरणमा व्यक्तिगत तहमा कलाकार, उत्पादक, आविष्कारक तथा निर्माताहरूलाई नजरअन्दाज गरिएको छ । लङ् टेलले सर्जकहरूको बिक्रीको मात्रा त अभिवृद्धि गर्दैन, तर अत्यन्त धेरै प्रतिस्पर्धा थप्ने र मूल्यमा ह्रास ल्याउन दबाब सिर्जना गर्ने काम गर्दछ । अन्य कलाकारहरूको कामको ठूलो समूह नबन्दासम्म लङ् टेलले न्यूनतम मात्राको बिक्रीबाट उनीहरूलाई छुटकारा प्रदान गर्दैन ।

यस्तो अवस्थामा लङ् टेलबाट उम्कनका लागि कुनै कलाकारले अत्यन्त लोकप्रिय हुने किसिमको सिर्जना गर्ने बाहेक अरू के गर्न सक्छ त?

यसको एउटा समाधान भनेको “हजार सच्चा प्रशंसकहरू” पत्ता लगाउनु हो । हुन त केही कलाकारहरूले यो बाटोलाई यसै नाम नदिईकनै पहिल्याइसकेका छन् ।  यसलाई औपचारिक बनाउनु पर्छ जस्तो लाग्छ मलाई । 

हजार सच्चा प्रशंसकको सार भनेको, कलाकार, सङ्गीतकार, फोटोग्राफर, कालिगढ, एनिमेटर, डिजाइनर, चलदृश्य निर्माता वा लेखकजस्ता कुनै पनि सर्जकले अथवा कलात्मक कुरा सिर्जना गरिरहेको जो कोही व्यक्तिले पनि आफ्नो जीविकोपार्जनका लागि केवल हजार सच्चा प्रशंसक बटुले पुग्छ भन्ने हो । 

सच्चा प्रशंसक भन्नाले त्यस्तो व्यक्ति बुझिन्छ जसले तपाईँले सिर्जना गरेको जुनसुकै वस्तु वा सेवा खरिद गर्दछन् । उक्त व्यक्ति हजारौँ माइलको यात्रा तय गरेर पनि तपाईँको गाएको सुन्न उपस्थित हुन्छन् । तपाईँको सिर्जनाको सस्तो र कम गुणस्तरको प्रति उपलब्ध हुँदाहुँदै पनि महँगो र उच्च गुणस्तरीय प्रति पनि खरिद गर्न चाहन्छन् । उनले तपाईँको नाममा गुगल अलर्ट राखेका हुन्छन् ता कि तपाईँका बारेमा केही नयाँ कुरा इन्टरनेटमा आउनासाथ थाहा पाउन सकियोस् । उनीहरू तपाईँको सिर्जनाको दुर्लभ संस्करण पाउन सकिने इबे जस्ता वेब्साइटमा निगरानी राख्छन् । तपाईँको कुनै कार्यको शुभारम्भमा उनीहरू अवश्यै उपस्थित हुन्छन् । उनीहरू आफूले खरिद गर्ने तपाईँको सिर्जनाको प्रतिमा तपाईँको हस्ताक्षर गराउँछन् । टिसर्ट, मग, ह्याट उनीहरूले सबै खरिद गर्दछन् । उनीहरू तपाईँको अर्को सिर्जना कहिले बाहिर आउँछ भनेर व्यग्रताका साथ पर्खिरहेका हुन्छन् । उनीहरू सच्चा प्रशंसक हुन् ।

लङ् टेलको तेर्सो धर्कोभन्दा माथि आफ्नो बिक्री बढाउनका लागि तपाईँले आफ्ना सच्चा प्रशंसकहरूसँग सिधा सम्पर्क गर्न जरुरी हुन्छ । अर्को शब्दमा भन्नुपर्दा, तपाईँले एक हजार साधारण प्रशंसकहरूलाई सच्चा प्रशंसकमा बदल्न जरुरी छ । 

मानौँ तपाईँका सच्चा प्रशंसकहरूले तपाईँले गरेको कामको समर्थनमा कम्तीमा आफ्नो एक दिनको कमाइ खर्च गर्नेछन् । त्यो “एक दिनको कमाइ” औसत हो, किनभने तपाईँका सबैभन्दा घोर प्रशंसकहरूले अवश्य नै त्योभन्दा धेरै खर्च गर्नेछन् । मानौँ तपाईँका प्रत्येक सच्चा प्रशंसकले वर्षमा १०० डलर तपाईँका लागि खर्च गर्दछन् । यदि तपाईँका प्रशंसक हजार छन् भने कुल रकम वार्षिक लाख डलर हुन आउँछ, जुन केही सामान्य खर्च कटाएर हेर्दा, प्रायजसो व्यक्तिहरूका लागि जीवनयापनका लागि पर्याप्त हुन्छ ।

एक हजार पु¥याउन सकिने सङ्ख्या हो । यदि तपाईँले दिनको एक जना प्रशंसक थप्नुभयो भने तपाईँलाई एक हजार पु¥याउन तीन वर्ष मात्र लाग्छ । यो सम्भव छ । सच्चा प्रशंसकलाई खुसी पार्नु आफैँमा रमाइलो र उत्साहपूर्ण हुन्छ । यसले सर्जकलाई आफ्नो कलाप्रति इमान्दार रहिरहन, आफ्नो कामका अद्वितीय पक्षहरूमा ध्यान दिइराख्न मद्दत गर्दछ, जुन कुरा सच्चा प्रशंसकले सदैव सराहना गर्दछन् ।

यहाँ मुख्य चुनौती भनेको तपाईँले आफ्ना हजार सच्चा प्रशंसकहरूसँग प्रत्यक्ष सम्पर्क, संवाद कायम राख्नु हो । उनीहरूले तपाईँलाई प्रत्यक्ष रूपमा सहयोग गरिरहेका हुन्छन्, कहिले तपाईँको कार्यक्रममा सहभागी भएर वा वेब्साइटबाट डिभिडी किनेर वा तपाईँको पुस्तक किनेर । तपाईँले सम्भव भएसम्म उनीहरूको समर्थन र मायालाई जोगाइराख्नुपर्छ । उनीहरूले प्रदान गर्ने प्रत्यक्ष पृष्ठपोषण र मायाबाट सदैब फाइदा पाउन सक्नुहुन्छ ।

सञ्चार प्रविधि र सानो खर्चमा उत्पादित सेवा सुविधाले यस वृत्तलाई सम्भव बनाएको छ । ब्लग र आरएसएस फिडको माध्यमबाट समाचार वा आगामी कार्यक्रम वा नयाँ सिर्जनाका बारेमा खबर सम्प्रेषण गर्न सकिन्छ । वेब्साइटमा तपाईँको विगतको काम, जीवनसम्बन्धी जानकारीको अभिलेख र साधनहरूको सूची–पुस्तक राख्न सक्नुहुन्छ । डिस्क्मेकर्स, ब्लर्ब, तीव्र रूपमा प्रतिकृति बनाउने पसलहरू, माइस्पेस, फेसबुक र सम्पूर्ण डिजिटल क्षेत्रले नै सानो खर्चमा प्रति बनाउने र वितरण गर्ने कार्यलाई तीव्र, सस्तो र सहज बनाएका छन् । कुनै नयाँ वस्तु तथा सेवाको उत्पादन प्रारम्भ गर्नका लागि तपाईँसँग लाखौँ प्रशंसक हुनुपर्छ भन्ने छैन । केवल एक हजार जना भए पुग्छ । 

तपाईँलाई जीविकोपार्जन प्रदान गर्न सक्ने घोर प्रशंसकहरूको सानो वृत्त अन्य थुप्रै मध्यम प्रशंसकहरूका वृत्तहरूले घेरिएको हुन्छ । ती मध्यम प्रशंसकहरूले तपाईँले उत्पादन गरेका सबै वस्तु तथा सेवा खरिद नगरे पनि तपाईँले सिर्जना गरेका अधिकांश चाहिँ किन्नेछन् । यसले गर्दा तपाईँले आफ्ना सच्चा प्रशंसकलाई खुसी पार्नका लागि उत्पादन गर्ने रचनाहरूले तपाईँका मध्यम प्रशंसकहरू पनि बढ्दै गइरहेका हुन्छन् । अर्थात्, जब तपाईँ नयाँ सच्चा प्रशसंक थप्दै जानुहुन्छ, तपाईँका मध्यम प्रशसंकहरूको पनि सङ्ख्या वृद्धि हुँदै जान्छ । अनि, यदि तपाईँले यसलाई निरन्तरता दिइराख्नु भयो भने तपाईँका लाखौँ प्रशंसकहरू पुग्न सक्छन् । र लाखौँ प्रशंसक बटुल्न नचाहने सर्जक त मैले आजसम्म भेटेकै छैन ।

तर यस रणनीतिले भन्न खोजेको नै के हो भने जीवन चलाउनका लागि तपाईँले अत्यन्त लोकप्रिय कुरा नै सिर्जना गर्नुपर्छ भन्ने छैन । लङ् टेलबाट उम्कनका लागि तपाईँले चरम लोकप्रियता (बेस्टसेलरडम) नै ताक्नुपर्छ भन्ने छैन । बीचमा एउटा स्थान छ, जुन पुच्छरबाट त्यति टाढा छैन, जहाँ तपाईँले कम्तीमा जीविकोपार्जन चाहिँ गर्न पाउनुहुन्छ । त्यस मध्य भागको आश्रयस्थललाई “हजार सच्चा प्रशंसक” भनिन्छ । कुनै पनि सर्जकका लागि लक्ष्य लिने यो वैकल्पिक गन्तव्य हुनसक्छ । 

भर्खरै यात्रा सुरु गरेका युवा सर्जकहरूका लागि डिजिटल रूपमा मध्यस्तता हुने यस संसारमा लोकप्रियताको उचाइबाहेक अन्य विकल्पहरू पनि छन्, जुन लङ् टेल सिर्जना गर्ने प्रविधिले नै सिर्जना गरेका हुन् । प्ल्याटिनम हिट, बेस्टसेलर ब्लकबस्टरर्स र सेलिब्रिटीको स्थानजस्ता साघुँरो र असम्भावित शिखर ताक्नुको साटो उनीहरू हजार सच्चा प्रशंसकसँग प्रत्यक्ष सम्पर्क राख्ने लक्ष्य लिन सक्छन् । यो अन्यभन्दा सम्भव र समझदारीपूर्ण गन्तव्य हुन सक्दछ । यसमा तपाईँले अकुत सम्पत्ति नकमाए पनि सहजै जीविकोपार्जन भने गर्न सक्नुहुन्छ । यसमा तपाईँ सच्चा प्रशंसकद्वारा घेरिँदै गर्दा कृतज्ञ बन्दै गन्तव्यमा पुग्ने सम्भावना पनि धेरै हुन्छ । 

यसै सिलसिलामा ध्यान दिनुपर्ने केही कुराहरू पनि छन् । एक जना व्यक्ति, एकल सर्जकका लागि यो एक हजार प्रत्यक्ष सच्चा प्रशंसकको सूत्र निर्माण गरिएको हो । दुई जनाको वा चार जनाको टोली, वा चलचित्र निर्माण टोलीको हकमा के हुन्छ त ? 

स्वाभाविक रूपमा, थप प्रशंसकहरू चाहिन्छन् । तर तपाईँलाई आवश्यक पर्ने थप प्रशंसकको सङ्ख्या तपाईँको सिर्जनात्मक समूहको वृद्धिसँग ज्यामितीय अनुपातमा हरहिसाब हुन्छ । अर्को शब्दमा भन्नुपर्दा, यदि तपाईँले आफ्नो समूहको आकार ३३% ले वृद्धि गर्नुभयो भने तपाईँलाई केवल ३३% प्रतिशत थप प्रशसंकको आवश्यकता पर्दछ । यो रेखाकार वृद्धि डिजिटल संसारमा धेरै चिजहरू फैलिने घाताङ्की वृद्धिभन्दा नितान्त भिन्न छ । तपाईँको सच्चा प्रशंसकको सञ्जालको मूल्य साधारण सञ्जालको प्रभावसम्बन्धी नियम (नेटवर्क इफेक्ट्स रुल) अनुसार भएमा र तपाईँको प्रशंसको वर्ग गुणाले बढेमा म छक्क पर्नेछैन । जब तपाईँका सच्चा प्रशंसकहरू एकआपसमा जोडिन्छन्, उनीहरूले तपाईँको सिर्जनाका लागि गर्ने औसत खर्च पनि सहजै वृद्धि हुँदै जान्छ । त्यसैले कुनै सिर्जनामा संलग्न सर्जकहरूको सङ्ख्या बढ्दै जाँदा सच्चा प्रशंसकको सङ्ख्या पनि मध्यम स्तरमा र समानुपातिक रूपमा बढ्दै जान्छ ।

एउटा थप महत्वपूर्ण सावधानी के हो भने सबै सर्जकहरू प्रशंसकलाई खुसी पार्ने स्वभावका वा त्यसो गर्न इच्छुक हुँदैनन् । धेरै जना सङ्गीतकारहरू केवल सङ्गीत सिर्जना गर्न, फोटोग्राफरहरू केवल तस्वीर खिच्न र चित्रकारहरू केवल चित्र कोर्न मन पराउँछन् । वा, उनीहरूको स्वभाव नै प्रशंसकहरूलाई सम्हाल्ने किसिमको हुँदैन । यस्ता सर्जकहरूलाई मध्यस्तकर्ता, प्रबन्धक, एजेन्ट, ग्यालेरिस्टजस्ता प्रशंसक सम्हालिदिने कुनै व्यक्तिको आवश्यकता पर्दछ । यद्यपि, यस्ता सर्जकहरूले पनि हजार सच्चा प्रशंसकको गन्तव्यको लक्ष्य लिन सक्छन् । कुरो यत्ति हो कि उनीहरू दुई जनाको समूहमा काम गर्नेछन् ।

तेस्रो विशिष्टता – प्रत्यक्ष प्रशंसकहरू सदैव सर्वोत्कृष्ट प्रशंसक हुन्छन् । जीविकोपार्जन गर्नका लागि आवश्यक पर्ने सच्चा प्रशंसकको सङ्ख्या अप्रत्यक्ष रूपमा छिट्टै बढ्छ, तर अनन्त रूपमा भने होइन । उदाहरणका लागि ब्लगिङ्लाई लिऔँ । कुनै पनि ब्लगरलाई उसका प्रशंसकले समर्थन गर्ने बाटो भनको विज्ञापन क्लिकहरूबाट हो (कहिलेकाँहि प्राप्त हुने प्रत्यक्ष सहयता बाहेक) । तसर्थ ब्लगरहरूलाई जीविकोपार्जन गर्नका निमित्त धेरै प्रशंसकहरूको आवश्यकता पर्दछ । यसले गन्तव्यलाई लङ् टेल वक्ररेखाको बायाँतर्फ सारे ता पनि ब्लकबस्टरकै खेमामा भने पार्दैन । किताब प्रकाशनको कुरामा पनि यो लागू हुन्छ । जब तपाईँका प्रकाशकहरूले तपाईँको सिर्जनाको आम्दानीको केही हिस्सा लिन्छन्, तब तपाईँलाई जीवन धान्नका लागि धेरै गुणा प्रशंसकको आवश्यकता पर्दछ । कुनै लेखकले जति आफ्ना प्रशंसकहरूसँग प्रत्यक्ष सम्पर्क स्थापना गर्दछ, त्यति नै कम सङ्ख्यामा प्रशंसकको आवश्यता पर्दछ । 

अन्त्यमा, वास्तविक सङ्ख्या भने माध्यमका आधारमा फरक पर्न पनि सक्दछ । सायद् एउटा चित्रकारका लागि सच्चा प्रशंसकको सङ्ख्या पाँच सय होला, तर एउटा चलचित्र निर्माताका लागि पाँच हजार सच्चा प्रशंसकको आवश्यकता पर्न सक्दछ । त्यसै गरी, संसारका विभिन्न स्थानअनुसार पनि यो सङ्ख्या अवश्यै फरक पर्दछ ।

तर वास्तवमा भन्ने हो भने ठ्याक्कै सङ्ख्या निर्धारण गर्नु त्यति महत्वपूर्ण छैन किनभने प्रयास गरेर यो निर्धारण गर्न सकिँदैन । जब तपाईँ यो सोचमा हुनुहुन्छ, तब वास्तविक सङ्ख्या स्वतः देखा पर्दछ । र, त्यहीँ सङ्ख्या हो तपाईँलाई चाहिने । मेरो सूत्र ठूलै मात्रामा फरक पर्न पनि सक्ला, तर यो दश लाखभन्दा चाहिँ धेरैले कम हो । 
सच्चा प्रशंसकको सङ्ख्याका लागि कुनै सन्दर्भ सामग्री छ कि भनेर मैले धेरै अध्ययन गर्दा विभिन्न तरिका फेला पारेको छु । Suck.com का सहसंस्थापक कार्ल स्टेडम्यानले “लघुख्यातिको सिद्धान्त” प्रतिपादन गरेका छन् । उनको गणनाअनुसार एक हजार पाँच सय व्यक्तिमाझ लोकप्रिय व्यक्ति लघुख्याति (माइक्रोसेलेब्रिटी) भएको व्यक्ति हो । तसर्थ ती एक हजार पाँच सय व्यक्ति तपाईँका घोर प्रशंसकहरू हुन् । ड्यानी ओब्राइनलाई उद्धरण गर्नुपर्दा, “यदि बेलायतको प्रत्येक सहरमा एउटा व्यक्तिले तपाईँको झुर अनलाइन कमिक्स मन परायो भने पनि तपाईँलाई वर्षैभरि बियर खान (वा टिसर्ट बेच्न) पुग्छ ।”

अरूले यस लघुख्यातिलाई लघुसहायता वा वितरीत सहायताको नाम पनि दिएका छन् ।

सन् १९९९मा जोन केल्सी र बु्रस स्नाएरले ‘फस्र्ट मन्डे’ नामक अनलाइन जर्नलका लागि एउटा प्रारूप (मोडल) प्रकाशित गरेका थिए । उनीहरूले यसलाई ‘सडक कलाकार प्रोटोकल’को नाम दिएका थिए । 

एउटा सडक कलाकारको तर्क प्रयोग गर्दै, लेखक उक्त पुस्तक प्रकाशित हुनुभन्दा अघि नै पाठकसमक्ष पुग्छ र अझ सायद् पुस्तक लेखिनुभन्दा अघि नै । लेखकले प्रकाशकलाई आफ्नो बाटोबाट हटाएर सिधै यस्तो खालको सार्वजनिक अभिव्यक्ति दिन् : “जब म लाख डलर चन्दा  प्राप्त गर्छु, तब म यस श्रृङ्खलाको अर्को उपन्यास निकाल्छु । ”
पाठकहरू लेखकको वेब्साइटमा जान सक्छन्, कति रकम बराबरको चन्दा आइसक्यो हेर्न सक्छन् र उपन्यास निकाल्नका लागि आफ्नो तर्फबाट योगदान दिन सक्छन् । यहाँ याद गर्नुपर्ने कुरा के हो भने, लेखकले अर्को अध्यायका लागि कसले पैसा ति¥यो वा पैसा नतिर्ने कति जना व्यक्तिले उक्त किताब पढे भन्ने कुरा मतलब गर्दैन । उसका लागि लाख डलर पुग्यो कि पुगेन भन्ने मात्र मतलब रहन्छ । जब लक्ष्य पूरा हुन्छ, उसले अर्को पुस्तक प्रकाशन गर्दछ । यहाँ “प्रकाशन” भन्नाले केवल “उपलब्ध गराउनु” भन्ने हो, “छापेर र पुस्तक पसलहरूबाट वितरण गर्ने” भन्ने होइन । उक्त पुस्तक सबैका लागि, पैसा तिर्ने र नतिर्ने दुबैका लागि निःशुल्क उपलब्ध गराइन्छ ।

सन् २००४ मा लेखक लरेन्स वाट–इभान्सले आफ्नो नयाँ उपन्यास प्रकाशित गर्नका लागि यही शैली प्रयोग गरेका थिए । उनले आफ्ना सच्चा प्रशंसकहरूलाई सामूहिक रूपमा प्रति महिना सय डलर तिर्न आग्रह गरे । जब उनले सय डलर पाए, तब उपन्यासको नयाँ अध्याय प्रकाशित गरे । उनका सच्चा प्रशंसकका लागि उनको सम्पूर्ण पुस्तक नै अनलाइनमा उपलब्ध थियो र पछि सबै प्रशंसकका लागि भौतिक रूपमा प्रकाशित गरिएको थियो । उनी अहिले त्यसरी नै दोस्रो उपन्यास लेख्दैछन् । उनी उनका अनुमानित दुई सच्चा प्रशंसकको भरमा चलेका छन् किनकि उनले परम्परागत तरिकामा पनि पुस्तक प्रकाशित गर्ने गरेका छन् र हजारौँ मध्यम प्रशंसकहरूद्वारा समर्थित प्रकाशकबाट बैना पनि प्राप्त गर्ने गरेका छन् । आफ्नो कामलाई समर्थन गर्नका लागि प्रत्यक्ष रूपमा प्रशंसकहरू प्रयोग गर्ने अन्य लेखकहरूमा डायन दुआन, स्यारोन ली र स्टिभ मिलरडन सेकर्स पर्दछन् । ग्रेग स्टोल्जले पनि आफ्ना दुई पूर्व प्रायोजित गेमहरू विमोचन गर्नका लागि यस्तै किसिमका सच्चा प्रशंसकको प्रारूप प्रयोग गरेका थिए । उनको निर्माण लागतका लागि ५० जना सच्चा प्रशंसकले आधार रकम (सिड मनी) योगदान गरेका थिए । 

सच्चा प्रशंसक प्रारूपको विशेषता भनेको के हो भने यसमा प्रशंसकले कलाकारलाई लङ् टेलको छेउभन्दा धेरै पर (उनीहरूको सङ्ख्या जनाउने परिमाणभन्दा धेरै पर) पु¥याउन सक्छन् । उनीहरूले यो कार्य तीन तरिकाले गर्न सक्छन् ः प्रत्येक व्यक्तिले अझ धेरै खरिद गरेर, प्रत्यक्ष रूपमा खर्च गरेर (ताकि सर्जकले प्रति बिक्रीबाट थप आयआर्जन गरोस्) र सहायताका नयाँ प्रारूपहरूलाई सबल बनाएर । 

सहायताका नयाँ प्रारूपहरूमा लघुसंरक्षण पनि पर्दछ । अर्को प्रारूप भनेको पूर्व प्रायोजित स्थापना (स्टार्टअप) लागतको हो । डिजिटल प्रविधिले प्रशंसकहरूको यस प्रकारको सहायतालाई विभिन्न स्वरूप दिएको छ । ‘फन्डेबल’ एउटा वेब्मा आधारित व्यवसाय हो, जसले कुनै पनि व्यक्तिलाई कुनै परियोजनाका लागि निश्चित परिमाणमा पैसा जुटाउन सहयोग गर्दछ र साथमा उक्त परियोजनामा योगदान गर्नेहरूलाई परियोजना कार्यान्वयन हुन्छ भनेर सुनिश्चित पनि गराइरहेको हुन्छ । तोकिएको सम्पूर्ण रकम नजुटेसम्म उठेको रकम फन्डेबलले नै राख्छ । यदि रकमको तोकिएको न्यूनतम मापदण्ड नपुगेमा उक्त पैसा फिर्ता दिइन्छ ।

फन्डेबलको वेबसाइटबाट एउटा उदाहरण यस्तो छ:

२० वर्षीया अमेलिया क्लासिकल सोप्रानो गायिका हुन । उनले रेकर्डिङ् स्टुडियो प्रवेश गर्नुअगावै आफ्नो पहिलो सिडी पूर्व–बिक्री गरेकी थिइन् । “यदि मैले चार सय डलरको पूर्व अर्डर पाएँ भने मैले (स्टुडियोको) बाँकी खर्च बेहोर्न सक्छु,” उनले आफ्ना सम्भावित दाताहरूलाई भनेकी थिइन् । फन्डेबलको “कि त सबै, अन्यथा शून्य प्रारूप”ले के कुरा सुनिश्चित ग¥यो भने यदि उनले आफ्नो लक्ष्य अनुसारको पैसा उठाउन सकिनन् भने उनका कुनै पनि ग्राहकले पैसा गुमाउने छैनन् । अमेलिया  नौ सय चालिस डलरभन्दा बढीको बिक्री गर्न सफल भएकी थिइन् । 

हुन त एक हजार डलरले एउटा भोको सर्जकलाई लामो समयसम्म पाल्न त सक्दैन, तर राम्रोसँग ध्यान दिने हो भने एक जना समर्पित सर्जकले आफ्ना सच्चा प्रशंसक मार्फत् थप राम्रो काम गर्न सक्दछ । जिल सोबुल एउटी सङ्गीतकार हुन्, जसले धेरै वर्षको भ्रमण र रेकर्डिङ्का माध्यमबाट उल्लेखनीय मात्रामा प्रशंसक कमाएकी छिन् र आफ्ना सच्चा प्रशंसकहरूका आधारमा राम्रो प्रगति गरिरहेकी छिन् । हालै उनले आफ्नो आगामी एल्बमका लागि आवश्यक व्यावसायिक रेकर्डिङ् शुल्क ७५ हजार डलर जुटाउनका लागि आफ्ना प्रशंसकहरूकोमा जाने निर्णय गरिन् । हालसम्म उनले ५० हजार डलर उठाइसकेकी छिन् । उनलाई प्रत्यक्ष रूपमा सहायता प्रदान गरेर उनका प्रशंसकहरूले आफ्नो कलाकारसँग सामीप्यता हासिल गरिरहेका छन् । 

असोसिएटेड प्रेस (एपी)का अनुसार, दाताहरूले विभिन्न तहको योगदान रोज्न सक्छन् । प्रारम्भिक स्तरको १० डलरको “अनपोलिस्ड रक” योगदानले उनीहरूलाई एल्बम बनिसकेपछि निःशुल्क डिजिटल डाउनलोड गर्ने अवसर दिन्छ भने सर्वोच स्तरको १० हजार डलरको “वेपन्स–ग्रेड प्लुटोनियम लेभल”को योगदान गर्ने दातालाई सोबुलले “आएर मेरो सिडीमा गाउन सक्नुहुन्छ । गाउन आउँदैन भने पनि चिन्ता नलिनुहोस् – हाम्रो तर्फबाट त्यसलाई मिलाउँछौँ” भनेर वाचा गरेकी छिन् । पाँच हजार डलरको योगदानका लागि सोबुलले दाताको घरमा नै आएर एउटा कन्सर्ट गर्छु भनेकी छिन् । प्रारम्भिक चरणहरू बढी लोकप्रिय छन्, जसमा दाताहरूले सिडीको पूर्व कपी, आभार सूचीमा आफ्नो नाम, उनीहरूलाई सिडीको “सहायक कार्यकारी निर्माता” भनेर चिनाउने टिसर्टजस्ता उपहारहरू पाउँछन् । 

तर सच्चा प्रशंसकहरूका आधारमा जिउनुको विकल्प भनेको गरिबीमा बाँच्नु हो । सन् १९९५सम्मका अध्ययनहरूले देखाउँछन् कि कलाकारले दाबी गर्न सक्ने मूल्य एकदम कम छ । समाजशास्त्री रुथ टोसले बेलायतमा कलाकारहरूमाझ एउटा सर्वेक्षण गरेकी छन्, जसका अनुसार सरदरमा बेलायतमा कलाकारहरूको कमाइ गरिबीको रेखामुनि नै छ । 

मेरो भनाइ के हो भने सिर्जनशीलहरूका लागि गरिबी र चरम लोकप्रियताको बीचमा पनि एउटा स्थान छ । चरम लोकप्रियताभन्दा केही तल, तर लङ् टेलको भिडभन्दा अलिक माथि । मलाई ठ्याक्क सङ्ख्या त थाहा छैन, तर मलाई लाग्छ एक जना समर्पित कलाकारले हजार जना सच्चा प्रशंसक हुर्काउन सक्छन् र नयाँ प्रविधिको प्रयोगले उनीहरूको प्रत्यक्ष सहायता र समर्थनबाट इमानपूर्वक जीविकोपार्जन गर्न सक्दछन् । यदि यस्तो मार्गमा हिडिराख्नुभएको कोही हुनुहुन्छ भने उहाँको कुरा सुन्न र जान्न म आतुर छु ।

Aug 25, 2016

Two low-cost interventions that can significantly improve education in Nepal

A few months back, King's College had organized a close group discussion on improving education in Nepal. I was one of the attendees of the discussion. I had talked about two things that I thought were very important in improving the education scenario in Nepal, especially on an institutional level. I believe these two initiatives alone if implemented sincerely, can significantly improve students' receptiveness towards education and equip them with practical and sellable skills that Nepal's labour market is desperately looking for. As I reflected back on those ideas later on, I have come to believe that, they are in fact very cost effective and can be easily implemented by educational institutions without significant additional financial burden. Of course, education is a complex subject and improving it requires multifaceted interventions but these two ideas could be a start:

1. Answering WHY?

I read somewhere, "a person who knows how will always have a job and the person who knows why will always be the boss". I have found it to be true. The majority of our students, however, especially the ones who haven't had exposure to non-academic education/training, don't know the answer to the why question. Most of them don't know why they are studying a particular subject. A guy is studying BBA because his parents told him to or that it seemed like the only logical option after high school. A girl is studying B.Sc. because she took science in her high school and it seemed like the only perfect alternative. It is rare to find a Nepali student who knows what he/she wants to be in life and why he/she is studying a particular subject. Naturally, when you don't know why you are doing something it is very difficult to get excited about the task. No wonder, most of our students are half dead with boredom. Education institutions can change this scenario by reaching out to students and helping them figure out the answer to this question. Career counselling should be an integral part of education. Students should be assisted to figure out why they are studying a particular subject and what its logical end would be. 

"You should study BBA if you are excited by businesses, by entrepreneurship."
"You should study LLB if debates, logical thinking, sense of fairness excite you."
"If lending a helping hand kindles joy in you, Social Work is the subject you are looking for."

If the students are clear on why I think other positives attributes will follow naturally.

2. Reading Habit

The importance of reading habit cannot be overstated. From Bill Gates, Warren Buffet to Barack Obama, every person who aspires to achieve something great, to lead needs to read. Reading habit not only develops a positive mindset in a person but also opens numerous roads to knowledge and self-growth. Personally, reading habit has been the most valuable habit that I have developed in life. It has turned me into an ever curious and self-reliant person. In the current world, where everything is changing so rapidly and every profession is having to relearn, redefine and reinvent itself, reading habit (and thereby self-learning) is becoming more important than ever.  Unfortunately, reading habit among Nepalese, in general, is very low. Except for the handful of elite schools, no educational institution has the development of reading habit integrated into their curriculum. At least, my school didn't have. The books in the library were there for decoration and weren't supposed to be borrowed.

Therefore, educational institutions (even the higher level education institutions) should design and implement programmes to develop reading habit in their students. They should make sure that the library is utilized to the fullest capacity possible and that their students read beyond their course books. 

Well, those were my two points. I think both of them are very cost-effective and easily implementable for an educational institution. What do you think? Are there any others ideas that can be as effective in your view? Please share!

Jul 6, 2016

Some Interesting Facts About Nepal

About a year ago, my company Onion Films Nepal had produced a video about some persistent myths/misperceptions surrounding Nepal and the facts. We had been able to find out some pretty interesting facts (beyond the usual facts that many of us know). The video was well-received with over a million views on differents platforms and websites. I am sharing the video here, just in case you haven't watched it already. If you like the video, please share it with your network.

Mar 26, 2016

Yojana Park: Hayek Comes to Nepali Theatre

Photo by: Ajay Ranabhat
It is my great pleasure to tell you that I have finally been able to overcome my laziness and procrastination to write a post in my blog after a hiatus of almost 10 months and that for the first time in Nepal, a play promoting ideas of liberty is being performed in a theater. I am also happy to report that I was involved in the writing, refining and rehearsal process of this play albeit in a minor role. 

The play "Yojana Park" which is being performed in Mandala Theatre currently, is based on the ideas presented by F.A. Hayek in his book "The Road to Serfdom". It was written and adapted to Nepali context by Suresh Sapkota and directed by Buddhi Tamang. This is his first work as a theater director. Yojana Park is the story of a family consisting of seven members (Six brothers and a widow) with different dreams of their own. As reflective of the members of the Nepalese society, however, all of them expect the government to help them achieve their dreams. From free goodies to favorable policies, they want it all and rest their hopes on the government for their well-being. But unlike Nepal, they actually get a chance to vote an authoritarian government into power and turn their wishful desire of a strong, pervasive state into a reality. Chaos ensues.

The Road to Serfdom had created a huge controversy and uproar when it was first published in 1945. Hayek's argument that all forms of collectivism eventually lead to tyranny was especially controversial. Many ridiculed Hayek's prediction while some were openly hostile to the book and did their best to stop it from spreading. The book encountered huge challenges in getting published by a mainstream publisher in the US. But as I would argue, history has vindicated Hayek and his warnings. Britain before Thatcher and India before 1990 show us how the states can go tyrannical and run people's lives even in democracies.

To a casual observer, Nepal may seem like a country on the opposite spectrum than what Hayek is talking about in his book and therefore, hardly a society that would appreciate his warnings. Yojana Park, however, makes sufficient ground and context for the ideas to make them relevant in the context of Nepal. It is a brilliant depiction of what our clamor for a strong, authoritarian government could eventually result in if we were not careful enough about what we wish for. To a drama aficionado, Yojana Park may not be much of a remarkable viewing as the drama falls short in artistic value and sense when compared to other recent dramas and the cast of the drama is relatively new. But to a person, seeking intellectual discourse through arts and to anyone seeking to watch ideals of liberty in a theatrical expression, the play is a must watch. I can hardly remember any other Nepali drama that deliberated on ideas as much as this one. I am very happy to see Hayek coming to Nepali theatre and hope that it is just the beginning.

[The drama is being performed at Mandala Theatre, Anamnagar everyday at 5:15 pm (except Mondays) until April 10, 2016.]