Our “business model” is simple and direct. We undertake those tasks that we do well, and bring competent partners into our program to do the things that they do well. We are staffed almost exclusively by volunteers, and pay our own travel expenses to Nepal, so we’re “lean and mean” and our operating overhead is small.
- Created the overall project plan.
- Found the best manufacturer to provide the stoves (they are brought to Kathmandu from Shanghai).
- We designed and create the chimney system in Nepal, creating local jobs and saving on freight costs).
- We have established a secure warehouse in Kathmandu.
- We organize the physical distribution from Kathmandu to the remote areas that are served by our Himalayan Partners / Associates.
- We partner with local organizations (our Himalayan Partners / Associates) who have had decades of experience in working with the local populations.
- The local organizations select locations where the stoves are distributed
- They handle the final distribution, instruction and monitoring (with our oversight).
We were advised by our Himalayan Partners, in our “pilot” stages in early 2011, that just “giving” the stoves was a bad idea – they advised, correctly, that the recipients had to have a sense of “ownership” in their stoves.
We agreed with their experience-based wisdom, and established a program where each village decided among themselves what the individual contributions would be. This made much more sense than our establishing an amount – the economic conditions vary significantly from area to area and village to village – a “one size fits all” approach didn’t make sense.
We also established a guideline that all contributions stayed in the village, for school supplies, medical supplies, funding a day care center – community based uses.
One of the villages has established a micro-finance program, where all the contributions are pooled, and the “mother’s group” allocates the funds to a small number of projects. When the projects are successful and the loans are repaid, the money is recirculated into the community for another project. This clever and innovative approach helps boot-strap the community and allows it to become more self-sustaining, and the money keeps getting re-cycled rather than consumed.