When recent SEE graduate from Kathmandu, Bidhi Mandal, went to Janakpur to complete her plus two education, the reality of her hometown hit her hard. Her observation of socio- economic disparity between Kathmandu and Janakpur made her realize that a huge numbers of people are lagging behind even in basic necessities. This bitter fact later incentivized her to initiate her own social venture- ‘Aawas’ and work as a social activist.
19 year old young entrepreneur and social activist Mandal is currently designing a prototype for her social business ‘Aawas’ along with her two engineer friends. Through ‘Aawas’ they’re building construction materials like bricks, tiles from recycled plastic which helps families with substandard housing conditions have better homes. “Right after the massive earthquake, many of us couldn’t repair our homes because of our financial barriers. I have also been a victim of this problem and there are other people who have suffered more., “ said Bidhi. With the help of plastic-based materials, people can not only build houses within the range of 5 to 7 lakhs but also help the environment as the plastic they’re using are recycled plastic waste. She states that about 82.56 metric tons of plastic waste will be recycled. Her idea was selected as top 27 for 4th Yunus National Social Business Challenge and UNDP Youth Co: Lab 3.0 and is still in the competition. This platform has helped her find donors, investors and also helped gain exposure.
She has also been involved with incubator hub of King’s College and has her project mentored by CEO of Himalayan Climate Initiative.
She has also been actively working on a research project on menstrual hygiene of homeless women of Kathmandu valley. In collaboration with group ‘Almost Invisible’, she is working on this project hoping to help these women be safe and healthy during their most vulnerable days.
Being a young girl from a conservative community, Mandal is no stranger to the hurdles and criticisms. “Whenever a girl works independently and for the benefit of the society rather than focusing on her family, she is regarded as ‘selfish’. This stereotype is internalized my many people in our community which makes it difficult to move forward,” she said grievously. She wants to break these barriers, live beyond the stereotypes and wants to encourage visionary young women of her community to pursue their passion. She believes achievements can surpass the negative criticisms and help prove these preconceived notions about women wrong.
Glocal Teen Hero and her future plans
She has been following Glocal Teen Hero and it’s winners for the past 3 years and felt platform as such would help her grow both as an individual and as an entrepreneur. “Platforms like GTH recognizes initiations of young minds more than their achievements which is much more important in my opinion. This makes us value and believe in our budding ideas,” said Mandal. She is ecstatic about the networks and recognition GTH will give to the works of all the teens selected for 20under20.
Mandal also has a deep interest in economics and hopes to pursue this social science for her further studies. Likewise, she wants to continue her work with ‘Aawas” and help promote her other ideas. In the near future, she also wants to participate in Seedstar competition, an international competition between emerging startups, and hopes to get funding and international recognition
Bidhi Mandal was selected among the 20 brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers below the age of 20 in Nepal, for the year 2019. This annual list is the ultimate honor roll of young game changers reshaping Nepal for the better. The platform seeks to encourage the youths to share their initiation, creativity, and enthusiasm which will then motivate them and more of the other youths in the nation to develop an entrepreneurial thinking