strategy

A big picture thinker, I also love to map out all of the details needed to make the project come to life, and find the right person for each task.

 
 
 Facilitating a discussion of the rebuilding plans with the villagers in Rainaskot and volunteers from the US and Canada in 2016

Facilitating a discussion of the rebuilding plans with the villagers in Rainaskot and volunteers from the US and Canada in 2016

project planning

In order to create a post-earthquake success story in Rainaskot, we had to plan the project to fulfill the wishes of the villagers for their future, consider environmental, economic and cultural sustainability, and make the buildings earthquake safe. All the while, we wanted to be good stewards of donor funds by having all of these priorities fulfilled at as low a cost as possible.

I was tasked with overseeing this conversation while allowing the Nepal team, especially our engineers, to have the most say in how we proceeded.

Some of the ways I was involved in this strategic planning included:

  • Holding a series of meetings to discuss several construction options with the villagers

  • Set parameters for participation in the rebuilding program, outlining the responsibilities of our team and those of the villagers

  • Facilitate the government permit approval process

  • Set up a periodic reporting standard for the Nepal-based team to follow

  • Assist in creating materials for data collection to track the impact of the project

  • Consult with a variety of experts in sustainability both in the US and Nepal, reporting my findings to the team and villagers for possible inclusion in the plan.

Our results: We were the first permanent rebuilding project to start work in Nepal. We were not the first to finish, we can say that the homes are very well-constructed, and they preserve some flavor of the traditional village home.

Our main economic plan for the village was to incorporate a B and B style guest room in each house (known in Nepal as a homestay). This plan has been a resounding success, with over 4000 guests staying in 14 guest rooms the first year.

This article explains the impact from the villagers in a very clear way:
Online Khabar article by Shashwat Pant

 
 Still from a video about Bimala Bhujel in Rainaskot. With her cooperation, we were able to tell the story of her life and the difficulties she faces. This video helped us to raise the funds needed for her house within a month. Many donors mention her by name and have genuine affection for her. Click on the picture to see the video produced in 2015.

Still from a video about Bimala Bhujel in Rainaskot. With her cooperation, we were able to tell the story of her life and the difficulties she faces. This video helped us to raise the funds needed for her house within a month. Many donors mention her by name and have genuine affection for her. Click on the picture to see the video produced in 2015.

marketing strategy

With disasters happening continuously in the US, and around the world, these events are quickly forgotten and the initial media coverage drops sharply after 3 weeks.

Add to that the fact that many Americans are unfamiliar with the life and culture of Nepal. Only more ambitious travelers make it to a small country that is a days worth of flying away, and even among those, few have been to the kind of community that we are serving.

Our aim was to raise the funds with as little expense as possible and to maintain the dignity and humanity of the people we were serving. To that end, my contribution to the strategy included:

  • Creating a focus for the marketing that would engage donors beyond the immediate aftermath of the disaster

  • Requesting specific materials and information from Nepal to introduce the donors to our beneficiaries

  • Periodic travel to Nepal to produce video content about the village, and to develop an ongoing relationship with the villagers

  • Hosting events in the US to meet new donors and update past donors about the progress in the village

  • Creating social media and email content to keep donors informed of the progress of construction

  • Working with the Nepal team to create personalized photos with thank yous from the villagers to inform donors of the ultimate impact of their investment

  • Conducting follow up visits with the village to monitor their progress in learning to run their Nepali-style Airbnb guest program (3000 guests in one year!)

 
 Nepal direcor Bibek K Pandit joins the villagers of Rainaskot and our US-based IT volunteer Ashish Khanal in watching NY photographer shoot drone footage of the village to share with donors.

Nepal direcor Bibek K Pandit joins the villagers of Rainaskot and our US-based IT volunteer Ashish Khanal in watching NY photographer shoot drone footage of the village to share with donors.

Team-building strategy

Recruited and collaborated with volunteers in the US providing services in branding, PR, legal, accounting, database management, and event planning

  • Identified the most immediate pressing need for our team

  • Searched in our networks for the most engaged and committed potential volunteer with that expertise

  • Interviewed potential volunteers to find a match with their skills and availability, and crafting a task based on their response

  • Took US volunteers and board members to Nepal so that their work could be informed by seeing the project and meeting the volunteers

 

Mentored the young Nepali team with specific training in social media marketing, proposal writing, and using technology for project management

 

  • Identified what technology they owned and felt comfortable using

  • Procured donations of phones and laptops for team members without personal equipment to use

  • Implemented a file organization system for the team to follow

  • Conducted training sessions the team so that they could better understand the core functions of the US-based team and respond accordingly to assigned tasks