Kishor Rimal responded, “tall question” when I asked him what goals he set for the newly opened Nepal Connection. Aside from building a successful business and offering good food in an atmosphere that supports social thinking, the primary goal was to establish the business as a social enterprise. Mahabir and Kishor did not want handouts from supports, investors or the government. Kishor stated, “I don’t know if this will work, but I want to do this by setting up an example.” The business was not for generating a profit for Mahabir or the investors…the profits are to support programs for the rural poor. It translates into support for rural schools and for rural subsistence farmers to start their own businesses. This model has been successfully replicated around the world. Take a look at Beads for Life. In Nangi the paper making, fish ponds and mushroom growing are good examples. Nepal Connection was to be the umbrella organization for all other projects.
Kishor and Mahabir often quarreled on issues of organization, finances and business management. Mahabir Pun is a social entrepreneur who sees the goals and will take any route to get there using only his morals as a compass. Kishor is methodical and in the position of balancing the supporters expectations of the business model with Mahabir’s daredevil style. For example, the primary investors wanted a central bank account for financial transparency. Mahabir refused. All the money goes directly to Mahabir’s personal account or the Himanchal Higher Education School account. The issue is not trust…people trust Mahabir. The issue is simply logical accounting…money in, money out. Investors and advisors want to track and crunch the numbers. Mahabir has always resisted this approach as long as I’ve known him. What is important to him is results…numbers do not matter.
Kishor was in the middle. One advisor is an important Kathmandu business man who owns Thamel.com. Kishor finds it challenging to connect Mahabir with people like Bal Joshi. Mahabir is driven by humanitarian goals and Mr. Joshi by profit. They have different ideas and come from backgrounds which may not allow them to collaborate successfully. Interestingly, Kishor finds it difficult to manage people he views as “senior” to him. He feels he lacks the training and experience. But I think he does well after hearing him tactfully describe this part of his job as “managing big personalities.”
Join me next week for the end of Kishor’s story and the future of Nepal Connection.