Mr. Bikram Khadka

Bikram Khadka, a 16 year old orphan, lives with his old and crippled grandmother in Kailash, Bajhang. Living in the remote hills where economic opportunities are severely constrained, he and his grandmother are dependent on his brother, a wage laborer working abroad. Birkram’s school fees and books, the family’s clothes, and medicines for the grandmother are paid from remittances sent by the brother. Recently, the money from his brother did not arrive and Bikram was stuck. He believed that it would be impossible to buy his grandmother’s medicine and manage all of the fees and expenses for his study. The tiny piece of land he farms only supports the family for about half the year.

Under the leadership of Binayak Pimi Danda FUGs, the Kailash communities started a handmade paper enterprise called Malika. Communities were informed of Lokta management and harvesting systems. Bikram saw a small glimpse of hope. He spent eleven days working for Lokta bark collection and harvested 55 kg of Lokta bark. He sold the bark to the enterprise in his village and mad NRs. 1,150 (US$16). With this money, he paid school fees and bought books, pens, clothing, and medicine for his grandmother. Bikram has been able to both continue his studies and care for his grandmother.

Bikram is not the only person in the village who has benefited from the community enterprise initiative. Throughout the Enterprise Based Biodiversity Conservation Project approximately 6,000 households in five districts have earned more money as a result of the GCP project activities. Many tell stories similar to Bikram, especially women who were once unemployed and now work for the enterprises and/or have husbands that no longer need to do seasonal work in to support the family. While the project does not directly target student retention rates and economic migration reduction, the benefits for local communities’ stability are clear.

The Malika handmade paper enterprise in Kailash has been studied and documented for duplication in other parts of . Some of the enterprise’s innovative features include the integration of biological and enterprise monitoring, the explicit link between biodiversity conservation and the economic viability of the enterprise, the shareholder rights for community members, and the consideration of all community members’ need (men and women, lower castes, and otherwise disadvantaged groups) when designing resource management and use plans.