RISE Fellowship Update: Roshani Karki Sapkota
Roshani Karki Sapkota is the Country Director for Wine to Water Nepal, and our RISE Fellow in Chitwan, Nepal. Through her fellowship, Roshani has been able to turn her non-profit into an income generating social enterprise, supporting the sustainability and longevity of her organization. She has been able to provide employment for two women who are tackling issues surrounding access to menstrual products and the taboo around menstruation. Continue reading below to learn more about Roshani and her accomplishements.
"How has the RISE Fellowship impacted your business?"
The RISE fellowship has helped us to have a consistent revenue stream. Previously, we were solely supported by Wine to Water USA which covered our operational cost. However, we were fearful about the long term existence of our organization, as our income was reliant on our partners in America. The RISE fellowship has supported us to create an enterprise that generates revenue; supporting the long-term existence of our business. We are now able to generate funds domestically through the production and sale of reusable sanitary pads which helps to fund our social impact.
"What is your biggest accomplishment so far?"
We trained women from rural communities in the southern part of the Kathmandu valley to make reusable sanitary pads. After the training, we were able to provide employment for some of the women and the others now have the skills and resources needed to set up their own sanitary production units in their communities. This will make the sanitary pads accessible to the villagers and the women will also be able to earn a living. We supported these women to set up their own units by providing them with the initial materials needed to start their production.
"What are you most proud of?"
Previously, the pads that were available in the markets use plastics and would take 500 - 700 years to decompose. We are proud that our pads are eco-friendly and can be reused for many years, which contributes to minimizing waste and reducing pad pollution.
Moreover, our products are paired with educational programs, such as menstrual health management awareness sessions. This will contribute towards reducing infections and other hygiene related health issues for our clients.
"How has the project shaped the lives of its employees?"
We have hired two new staff to produce sanitary pads. They were previously working jobs that paid them on a piece-rate system, rather than a fixed salary, causing them to work long hours for little compensation. The women were also very happy to learn how to use electric sewing machines as they had previously lost job offers as a result of not knowing how to use the latest technology. Through gaining employment at Wine to Water Nepal, the women have been able to better support their children’s education.
"If you could share one piece of advice with your younger self, what would it be and why?"
I knew that I could empower young girls and women through my initiative, but our organization did not have an income generating-model which harmed the sustainability and longevity of our non-profit. Although this seemed like a huge hurdle, I would like to encourage other women not to hesitate when taking risks. Women are capable of creating a massive impact through their work, and although there might be challenges and difficulties along the way, they can be mitigated as they come along.
Want to support Roshani's work? Click here to donate to her fellowship.