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Shubhangi Rana

Shubhangi Rana is a civil engineer and social entrepreneur. She completed her Bachelors in Technology (B.Tech) from National Institute of Technology, Warangal in Civil Engineering in 2018. After returning to Nepal, she co-founded Pad2Go with Jesselina Rana, both motivated by their own experiences with restrictive taboos around menstruation.

Pad2Go is a social enterprise promoting menstrual health management in Nepal in a holistic manner. They provide Nepal’s first Sanitary Napkin vending machines; pads from the machines are cheaper than the market rate. In a span of two years, they have installed 190 machines in all seven provinces of the country. They also provide training programs to school and college level students, both boys and girls, regarding menstruation and the social percept around it.

Pad2Go has started a campaign called “#RaatoKarMaafGar”, in order to remove the extra VAT from all period products. Profitable proceeds from the pads and 10% profit from each machine are then re-integrated back into the rural communities to build gender and disability-friendly toilets and sanitation facilities in far-western Nepal. With this, they aim to implement the robin-hood effect, redistribution of income to reduce economic inequality.

Rana also worked at Sanima Hydropower as a Junior Civil Engineer for the design and drawing of Middle Tamor Hydropower Project (73 MW). She is currently working as an Engineering Support Officer at CDM Smith Nepal for their Nepal Reconstruction Engineering Services Program funded by USAID.

“Heard of Wake and Bake Granolas? If you haven’t, do go check them out at Bhatbhateni. I am one of the co-founders of this venture which offers a healthy and hearty breakfast option with a social impact, an initiative of Pad2Go and Nochini,” informs Rana who is also a member of the Global Shapers Kathmandu Hub, part of the Global Shapers Community which is an initiative by the World Economic forum and currently working on climate change and education projects.

In this edition of Business 360, Shubhangi Rana talks about some brands that are important to her and what she has learnt from them.

A brand, a person, and a campaign that you have learnt something from

• Toms shoes – The company’s one-for-one giving model was both revolutionary and extremely easy for consumers to understand: Buy a pair of shoes and a child in a developing country gets a pair of shoes, making it one of the first mainstream purpose-driven fashion companies ever. I was in high school when I found out about Toms, and trust me, I was in awe of this business model. You can earn money and give back? Why be a philanthropist after earning tons of money and retiring while you can earn and support others at the same time? The idea of your business not only being profit driven but also driven by societal needs you’re passionate about, inspired me. These business models have a potential to create monumental change and definitely helped me envision Pad2Go’s social impact.

• Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank – The financial industry is not exactly viewed as a paradigm of charity and giving back. Hence, when Muhammad Yunus launched Grameen Bank in 1976, he started the microcredit and microfinance revolution. Professor Yunus has successfully melded capitalism with social responsibility to create the Grameen Bank, a microcredit institution committed to providing small amounts of working capital to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development. Small loans do not only help them survive, but also create a spark of entrepreneurship which could empower them and make them self-reliant without depending on donations and funding, a more sustainable approach to eradicate poverty.

• ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – The Ice Bucket Challenge was a campaign to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) where you had to dump a bucket of ice water on your head, challenge three other people, and make a donation to the organisation. I am sure a lot of us participated! It went viral, even celebrities and influencers all over the world were doing it. This challenge definitely helped us realise the power of social media. A challenge so simple, yet more than 17 million people participated. There were a lot of backlashes, people tend to scrutinise the tiniest of things once anything becomes famous. However, the fact that this single challenge created a lot of water waste is something to notice and remember while starting any other campaign.
Your work philosophy

Survival of the fittest: For a science student, you can’t expect anything less from me. The term ‘survival of the fittest’ was coined by Charles Darwin in the 1860s, yet it has had a significant impact till date. My day starts as an engineer and ends as an entrepreneur, which definitely gets hectic and a little too much at times, but again reminding myself why I am here and where I want to be, really motivates me to do better. Survival of the fittest in today’s world is all about balance, work -life balance. It is okay to rest; it is okay to take a break, just make sure you come back stronger.

Heard of Wake and Bake Granolas? If you haven’t, do go check them out at Bhatbhateni. I am one of the co-founders of this venture which offers a healthy and hearty breakfast option with a social impact, an initiative of Pad2Go and Nochini.

Top 4 apps you use

WhatsApp, YouTube, Google Drive and Google Calendar. Everyday apps that have proved to be building blocks for my personal and professional growth.

3 destinations within Nepal you want to travel to

• Shey Phoksundo Lake, Dolpa – I remember watching the movie Caravan / Himalaya in 8th grade at school and I was awestruck, the beauty of our country is infinite and here I was living in a bubble in Kathmandu. That day, I had promised myself to visit Upper Dolpa, and will do so soon, hopefully!

• Milke Dada – Apparently, this place is filled with different colours of rhododendrons during season.

• Bajura – Through Pad2Go’s social impact, we will be constructing a gender and disability friendly toilet at Bajura which has one of the lowest literacy rates for females in Nepal. One of the main reasons being lack of proper sanitary and toilet facilities in schools due to which girls miss school or even dropout altogether. We could not take this project further due to Covid 19 last year, but we are confident to do so this year.

3 women-run businesses you think deserve accolades

• Educase
• Khaalisisi
• Lahar Srijana

5 entrepreneurs who inspire you

• Elon Musk
• Sheryl Sandberg
• Bill and Melinda Gates
• Ambica Shrestha
• Jesselina Rana

1 non-profit organisation you want to support

Satyam Daycare center- A place for kids with down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. You can also celebrate your birthdays there, or any occasion.

The best work advice you have received so far

“Business (you can do business by either studying it or doing it)

4 Nepali startups you think deserve the spotlight

• Anthropose
• Tootle
• Hatti Hatti
• Foodmario

If you could change ONE thing about the present entrepreneurial scene in Nepal, what would that be?

More knowledge, financial literacy in terms of entrepreneurship along with types of business that you can start, focusing on the importance of social enterprise. Many people still confuse a social enterprise with a non-profit, and this is something we really need to address as a country growing in the entrepreneurial sector.

One myth regarding Sanitary Pad that you want to debunk

You don’t have to wrap a sanitary napkin in a newspaper and then put it in a black plastic bag. It is okay for people to see it; you will at least save a lot of newspapers and plastics.

Who among the International influencers you want to work with for Pad2Go?

• Bill and Melinda Gates
• Malala Yousafzai
• Michelle Obama

If you could debunk one gender myth about women entrepreneurs, what would that be?

Women-owned and men-owned businesses face the same level of difficulty in acquiring financing.

If Pad2Go were to participate in Shark Tank, what would be your one line pitch?

Collaborate with us because you are not only helping yourselves but also ensuring menstruating individuals in Nepal have access to menstrual products – HELP US, HELP YOU, HELP OTHERS.

Ujeena Rana is an academic and writer. She has worked in media for more than a decade. She enjoys walking, wondering, creating, listening to podcasts and singing lullabies to her toddler. She devours national and international news on a daily basis like a hungry person devours everything on the plate.

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