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Exclusive Interview with Bidhi Mandal: Top 6 Finalist of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero 2019

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Bidhi Mandal, originally from Janakpur is an emerging entrepreneur and social activist. She initiated her own social venture- ‘Aawas’ and is also working as a Social Activist. She has also been actively working on a research project on menstrual hygiene of homeless women of Kathmandu valley. She is a dedicated teen who is always ready to help the people and she is also working to promote digital literacy and Tourism in Janakpur.

She shared some words about her to Glocal Khabar during an exclusive interview after the Glocal Teen Hero 2019 event. The major highlights of the interview are given below:

Glocal Khabar: Can you share about your journey as Top 6 Finalist. What do you recall the most?

Bidhi: The overall journey of Glocal Teen Hero was amazing. There was slight confusion if I would be selected or not. I was happy being selected as a finalist and even happier meeting the other 5 finalists. It felt unbelievable hearing their stories and they were doing great in the young age. I got inspired and motivated a lot. Those 5 days of training were great. Upon meeting the Managing Director of SBI Bank, he inspired us a lot and as a teenager, we realized that we also can reach to that place one day if we are dedicated and passionate about our work. He suggested us to identify our potential and work hard with a clear vision. Firstly, I thought Glocal Teen Hero to be a competition, but meeting other finalists felt like we are a family. Not just the finalist, but the other Glocal 20’s under 20 were also really amazing. I am currently working with some of them and it actually feels great. Glocal Teen Hero, for me I won it when I got selected as Top 6 Finalist. The learnings that we received, the meetings and workshops, personality development sessions, networking and reaching to that limelight is the best thing ever that happened. GTH is really a big platform and it surely has great importance in my life.

Apart from that, not just the teenagers from Nepal, but we also got interact with international teenagers. We got to know about how teenagers from different countries take the issues of empowerment, entrepreneurship, and socio-perspective and that was informative. Age is just a number! I strongly believe it and in the course of working, when my work got recognized, then I started believing myself more and I have a clear path and a vision upon my work. I believe I can do really well in the days to come. Glocal Teen Hero not only gave us platform, but also lifelong learning that we can utilize for our life and I will be always grateful towards Glocal Family.

When I was small, my mom had a shop in front of UN House. I used to see the people wearing the ID card of UN and I always wondered how it would feel working in UN, how the environment inside is and all. We got a chance to enter inside UN office and in realized that our action does determine where we lead. And after 3 years I went UN and met the Country Head and it was so proud moment for me. She praised me for my work and that is something really worth it and I can never forget that moment.

Glocal Khabar: How did your journey as an Entrepreneur and Social Activism start? What kind of challenges did you face on your way?

Bidhi: After a massive earthquake hit Nepal, we saw many houses were damaged, cracked and the condition was miserable. There were cracks in my house as well. The thing that striked on my mind was “Housing” is really important. I got familiar with data and I found that there are many people who suffered loss of their houses due to earthquake. Right after the massive earthquake, many of us couldn’t repair our houses because of our financial barriers. I have also been a victim of this problem and there were other people who have suffered more. I started my research on how to build houses at an affordable cost. 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. That was my idea and my finding. Then my idea was then selected as top 27 for 4th Yunus National Social Business Challenge and UNDP Youth Co: Lab 3.0 and my idea got connected with business idea. So, I am currently designing a prototype for my social business ‘Aawas’ along with my two engineer friends. Through ‘Aawas’ we’re building construction materials like bricks, tiles from recycled plastic which helps families with substandard housing conditions have better homes. About 82.56 metric tons of plastic waste will be recycled if we can initiate our plans. This platform has helped her find donors, investors and also helped gain exposure.

I am also a social activist. I had also been involved with incubator hub of King’s College and my project being mentored by CEO of Himalayan Climate Initiative. I have also been actively working on a research project on menstrual hygiene of homeless women of Kathmandu valley. In collaboration with the group ‘Almost Invisible’, I am working on this project hoping to help these women be safe and healthy during their most vulnerable days. And moreover, I am also working to promote digital literacy and Tourism in Janakpur.

Recently, I won “Infrastructure Idea Hunt, 2019” and that was proud moment for me. I was there sharing stage with the renowned personalities like Mr. Basanta Chaudhary, Political Leaders like Mr. Puspa Kamal Dahal, Vice President of ADB Bank, Vice President of World Bank and many other. This was a huge achievement for me. And I know the entrepreneurship journey is difficult. There are lots of challenges. But if an entrepreneur has a passion, then they can eventually succeed. Moreover, you need to work first, then you can face everything on the way. And I learned that if we work hard, we can eventually get the support. Before I had no money, I just had plans. But now, I am getting support from various people for my project which is a very big thing for me. Passionate entrepreneur gets support. That’s what I learned.

Glocal Khabar: What is your plan after GTH 2019? What will you be working on?

Bidhi: I want to continue my work with “Aawas” and help promote my other ideas in a national level. In the near future, I also want to participate in Seed Star Competition, an international competition between emerging startups, and hopes to get funding and international recognition. I want to work in a state level with our project. We are going to register a non-profit housing company named “Aawas” and it does comply with my business ideas and work. We are receiving many support for this company and I believe I can turn my ideas and implement it towards sustainable housing. I have a dream to make my project a nationwide project. Likewise, I also want to make people aware about the bad use of plastic and I am planning to carry out research on the ways to reduce Plastic.

Glocal Khabar: What message you would like to deliver to the youth?

Bidhi: As an entrepreneur, I have realized being an entrepreneur is not easy. Our beliefs, ideas may be conflicting sometimes and moreover, we may even doubt ourselves. But the thing is, if we are passionate enough upon our work and ideas, we can eventually get success. We learn slowly and gradually. So, we should be passionate and have that belief and dedication that will push you toward success.