Rishta Karki is a Technical Officer at Empower Generation (EG) in Nepal. EG provides professional development opportunities to its staff and network entrepreneurs. Here, Rishta shares what she learned from attending the 2016 Sankalp Global Summit and GSMA’s Mobile for Development Summit in Mumbai.


Attending the 2016 Sankalp Global Summit and the GSMA’s (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) Mobile for Development Summit in Mumbai, India was a huge opportunity for someone like me who had never left my home country of Nepal. At these summits, global problem solvers and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss how to address the basic needs of three billion people who do not have access to clean water, sanitation, energy or security. I had the opportunity to meet with inspiring entrepreneurs, discover free services offered to social enterprises like EG, and learn about new product lines.

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Out of all the people I met at Sankalp, I was most impressed by Karthik Chandrasekar, Partner at Sangam Ventures, a venture capital firm that funds energy and innovation oriented startups. We discussed EG’s work, and he offered us advice on how startup social enterprises can further develop. During the conference, I also met Paul Ohaga, Partner at Fanisi Capital in Kenya, who works with Intellecap, the organizer of the Global Sankalp Summit. We shared ideas on how EG can participate in upcoming events.

While at Sankalp, I also learned about how established corporations are supporting social enterprises in different ways. Software company Autodesk, for example, provides free online advertising support to social enterprises that focus on helping people at the bottom of the pyramid and that offer a new approach to improving their lives.

EG is constantly exploring new product lines to offer, and we met with a number of tech companies focused on helping rural people at the GSMA Mobile for Development Summit. For example, Nexleaf Analytics manufactures a wireless module that calculates the amount of CO2 reduction with improved cook stove use and helps the user receive an incentive for reduced emissions. This product was designed to encourage rural people to use improved cook stoves, as their initial high cost discourages people from purchasing them.

We also met with SOLshare, a company that has designed a mechanism that allows the user to share excess electricity generated from a solar source to another user or the national grid. In addition, I was inspired by Brighterlite’s solar home system pay-as-you-go model in Pakistan. This same approach could be applied to remote Nepal where electrification is still scarce. The rent-to-use approach would work well because the initial high cost of solar home systems prevent people in rural areas from purchasing them.

I attended the GSMA and Sankalp summits, as part of EG’s professional development for its employees. At the summits, I expanded my knowledge and abilities. Being exposed to global social enterprises and entrepreneurs broadened by thinking and has given me many ideas on how to develop technology-oriented market-based solutions in Nepal.

In addition, the trip changed me and helped me increase my confidence. The girl, who used to be intimated, facing a large number of people, is no longer—I left my timidity back in India and brought my self-confidence home. Now, I am able to pitch about our products in front of a lot of people in a better way than I ever thought I could.

All thanks to EG!