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Everyone laughed at her idea, yet she initiated a trash collection business: Story of Khaalisisi

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Everyone laughed at her idea first. But, the business is now successful to bring disruptions in the waste-collection and recycling industry of Nepal

Aayushi KC had a respected and well-paying job at USAID Nepal. But, she wanted to something different. So, she left the job with the dream of starting a trash-collection company. Everyone in her family and friends’ network had laughed when she first shared the idea. But, she didn’t stop there, instead continued working on it.

More than business, she wanted to create a solution to the problem of trash collection in Kathmandu.

“Our Khaalisisi friends scream their lungs out going alley to alley, requesting for recyclable wastes. Whereas, people wait for Khaalisisi friends (waste entrepreneurs) to come by at their doorstep. This is one frustrating gap. And this is why most of the valuable resources that could have been recycled end up in the landfill,” shares KC about the idea behind starting the company.

She wanted to make the waste management process more efficient. After the thorough study of trash collection industry of Kathmandu, she started Khaalisisi about two months ago. “We are here to bridge this gap by making it easier for the waste seller, you, to sell/donate your recyclable trash while increasing business for our waste entrepreneurs, our Khaalisisi friends,” she says.

After getting an overwhelming response from the users in their prototype version, they formally launched the company on June 5, on the occasion of World Environment Day.

“We are here to disrupt the recycling industry of Nepal. Our big vision is to implement ‘zero waste’ in Nepal,” KC shares. “Currently, all the wastes end up in Sisdol landfill site, Okharpauwa. Though 70 % of the waste is recyclable, it is left to decay,” she adds.

“Zero waste is not an impossible dream as many countries including Sweden have already accomplished it, and have even imported waste to turn it into energy. We too have the vision of that level,” says KC.

While studying the scenario, Khaalisisi team found the sheer lack of waste recycling industry in Nepal. So, they are establishing not only a company, but an industry itself.

Khaalisisi is already successful to create a buzz on the social media. The service of the company is currently available inside ring road area only.

The beginning days when everyone laughed

While approaching waste entepreneurs for getting them to work under Khaalisisi, they used to laugh instead. They didn’t believe that collecting trash through a digital platform was possible. Also, it was challenging for her to bring the Khaalisisi dai’s to work under the company because they have a very tight-knit community, and have their own network. “It was very hard to convince them in the recruiting process. Also, they don’t understand the concept of digital platform. But, we did it.”

Khaalisisi friends

Moreover, the clients too were not receptive towards the business model and gave responses like ‘everything is going fine in this traditional model itself’.

While registering the company also, there was no clear category of business options to suit their model and the closest objective was ‘Kawadiwala’ (trash collector). And, everyone was amazed when she brought home the company registration certificate.

“As none had done such type of business earlier, we felt that we were creating an industry itself for the wastes,” KC shares.

The process

One can go to Khaalisisi.com and schedule pick-up of wastes at their appropriate time. Khaalisisi friends would come to pick up wastes at the convenience of users.

There are two options the users with their wastes. To sell, or donate.

The wastes are bought as per the ongoing standard market rates. Currently, Rs. 2 for a beer bottle, Rs. 10 per Kg of newspapers, and so on.

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Meanwhile, ten percent of the trash donation goes back to the Khaalisisi community itself, including providing them with safety gears or taking them for movies on occasions.

Not to miss, trash donors are provided with monthly reports of their donation and how it was utilized.

Working model of trash collection

“We are more like Uber of trash collection in Kathmandu. Khaalisisi friends with us are distributed across various locations of Kathmandu, and the one from the nearest location goes to collect the trash in client’s (seller’s) suitable day and time,” shares KC.

They are also coming up with a reward system for the users, who would get some privileges and benefits after getting certain points.

In average, they currently get orders for about 2 pick-ups in any particular day. And, most of the pick-ups are about beer-bottles, and PET bottles from restaurants. “Recently, we had picked up 200 pieces of bottles from a single restaurant in a single day. It’s growing steadily,” she says.

User responses

Their target till the month of May, the first two months, was to reach out to 5000 people. But, overwhelmingly enough, they have already reached out to 15,000 plus users. “It says that services like this are really lacking and people are in real need of the services,” she says.

And, when they have also been calling applications for internships, students of environmental engineering have been showing interests.

At a time when there is not a precise database on what type of wastes are collected everyday in what amount in Kathmandu, Khaalisisi wants to create that database.

Started all on her own, with supports from her husband, kC already has a network of around 40 Khaalisisi dai’s under the company. “There are as many as 13,000 people working on trash collection in Kathmandu alone. So, our goal is to bring all of them to Khaalisisi platform, and empower them,” she shares.

Achievements

“Last month, we were able to give an allowance of around 2500 rupees to one of our Khaalisisi dai. He was extremely happyon this and shared that he went to his hometown and enjoyed with the money. In this way, Khaalisisi has empowered them,” KC shares.

“The trash-collectors in Nepal are poorly behaved, and least respected. With Khaalisisi, we are changing the concept of trash collecting,” she further shares, adding, “The response from clients too is very wonderful.”

Future plans

They are planning to recycle everything possible in near future. Their next plan is to bring investors into the company, and make the investment as efficient as possible through innovations. “We will be bringing tech-solutions to carry out operations including finding out locations of clients and various others services,” KC shares her plans.

For about next one year, they would be focused on trash collection itself. “Then, we will move into recycling process, ultimately taking the service out of Kathmandu valley too,” she says.

Being a woman entrepreneur in Nepal

“On a personal note, I feel there is no male/female difference though the gender rule is still rife in our society. In my own case, I have not seen any females in this trash-collection sector. It has its own stereotypes. My family too had objected to my idea of working on waste-collection. There aren’t enough examples to look up to. But, personally speaking, I was highly motivated by my mother-in-law. In my family also, my mom and sisters were very empowered. It’s our society that has shaped us with gender rules. Instead of thinking about male/females, we should first think about the problem first, and work on it,” she shares.

To the budding entrepreneurs:

“Majority of us think about a business idea, but hesitate to work on that. The idea of starting the company was conceived more than a year ago in my case. If we doubt our ideas, we can’t do anything. Taking ideas into action is the most crucial difference between an entrepreneur and others. So, you just do it with urgency. Even if you fail, you can get to learn a lot of things. You can still move on,” KC shares to the emerging entrepreneurs.

“Similarly, you need to have a big vision while starting anything. Entrepreneurship is all about viewing problems with a different perspective. It’s not just for money, but solving the problem. You have to create a value to whomever you are trying to serve. If you are able to create that value, money will follow,” she further shares.

Startups for a better Nepal!

Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal