Too many ideas simply die out in small teashops over a cup of tea. Every day a great number of people meet up, talk, and then go about their lives as usual, forgetting that they discussed an idea that could be “the next best thing” and never acting on them. “We know this because we’ve done that ourselves,” says Nishchhal Kharal, CEO of Idea Ghar. Kharal explains that what often comes between a conceived idea and its execution is the lack of a platform and a set of resources.
Into the picture comes We For Change, a non-profit organization run entirely by individuals between the ages of 16 to 24. “We realized that young people in Nepal lacked a solid, an all focus platform for them to express and develop their ideas. The sooner you act on an idea, the more time you have to polish it,” says Nishchhal who is also the former president of We For Change but has since retired from the organization upon crossing the age of 24.
Back in March 2012, seven people with an average age of 18 years got together and decided that they would start an organization exclusively for young people. Nishchhal was among the seven. So they recruited members for the organization and chose a governing body from the members.
The idea was to emulate the parliamentary system whereby an executive committee and board of directors made up the decision taking body. Every two years an election was to be held for a new set of directors. From the members, a seven-member board is elected, plus five more who make up the executive committee. Sushmina Baidya, former member and current head of communications at Idea Ghar says, “The tenure is short because we want to keep alive the energy and spirit of our young members.”
Idea Ghar is made up of the alumni of We For Change who have crossed the cutoff age for the organization. Therefore, Idea Ghar coexists with We For Change. But where We For Change is an NGO, Idea Ghar is a for profit company. Currently, We For Change is run by fifth generation leaders and its members are now in the hundreds. Every three months the members meet up to discuss project ideas and work on them until their next meeting.
As of the moment, We For Change has undertaken three major projects. HIV Testing is one wherein the members of the organization travel to 12 remote sectors in the Tarai region to carry out tests to detect HIV. They have a testing van of their own to carry out the task. MTV Outloud is another major project focused entirely on sexual and reproductive health. The goal is to educate mobile transportation workers about safe sex, use of contraceptives, and reproductive rights.
And Girl Power is an advocacy campaign for political awareness among girls. We For Change regularly assembles group of girls of different ages and conducts various sessions and workshops. “Through our work we have realized that just starting with one person is a huge leap forward,” shares Prayas Subedi, secretary for We For Change.
Idea Ghar, on the other hand, helps develop companies from creative ideas. From My Nepali Friend is one that’s a social venture for eco friendly Nepali products made with the coalition of marginalized and underprivileged groups. Nepal Chapter Scholars Abroad is another company that arranges for volunteering and internship opportunities in various countries around the world. The aim is for people to gain cross-cultural experiences.
Just recently, Idea Ghar and We For Change partnered up for a “March Against Global Climate Change” in Mardi Himal. A group of 30 people participated in the march and as they made their way upward they gathered all the non-biodegradable waste in the trail. One member even put on an outfit entirely made up of plastic as a satire for environmental degradation.
Peace First was another micro-financing project that the organizations launched together. They teamed up with Peace First USA and provided micro grants for youths who came up with their own project ideas. Where We For Change is entirely donor dependent, Idea Ghar sustains itself through CSR contributions of companies they have helped develop. And they actively connect with national and international agencies for more projects and opportunities.
We For Change and Idea Ghar is what the leaders and founders call a youth movement. “It’s about giving young people control and support for their ideas. What we think and come up with in a discussion over a cup of tea has the power to change someone else’s life. From one we can reach many and this is why we do what we do,” says Sailesh Shahi COO of Idea Ghar.
Disaster integration, active lifestyle and wellbeing, personality development, environmental sustainability and peace building are key areas the organizations collectively focus on. “Aware, Engage and Empower,” says their mission statement and they are doing exactly that.