A family reunion at our birth country of Nepal got us talking about three things - firstly the desire to run a creative business completely away from our day to day life in technology, secondly, the discontentment over not being able to continue upon our fundraising initiatives for supporting better education in Nepal and finally our love for the gorgeous Nepalese handmade paper with pressed flowers that we used to wrap gifts for our guests at home. The late nights talks led from one thing to another and by the time it was time to leave, we had decided upon a social enterprise - a for-profit business model with “social good” as one of the main motives/objectives. And several more weekends later Loktaa - pronounced Lock-Tah was conceived.
Social At Heart
We consider ourselves a newbie social enterprise - a for-profit business with a social aspect at the heart of it. Our social focus is on Education and it starts with getting children into school and keeping them there. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states Everyone has the right to education. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, this right does not come easy. While we won’t claim to solve the issue, we will definitely take strides to ensure that via our charity partners, opportunities for education are made available to as many as possible. Our commitment is for 50% of the profits from Loktaa to go towards this social cause. Our chosen charity of choice is Room to Read.
Well, besides the fact that we have Nepalese roots, lets go over some facts around Education and Literacy in Nepal. Did you know that in Nepal,
- Almost half of adults are illiterate
- 39.6 percent of students drop out before graduating from primary school
- about 1⁄3 of the population aged 5-14 don’t go to school - they work
The multiple earthquakes that hit Nepal in 2015 have not been kind either. It resulted in the destruction of thousands of schools in 14 districts displacing 1 million students from their school.
The cultural/social norms of the country has an even deeper impact on education of girls with missed opportunities to study right from the start or being pressured to drop out of the education system after being married. Approximately 40% of girls are married before turning 18.
Loktaa - More than just Paper
The paper used in this product is made from the bark of the Loktaa plant that grows high up in the Himalayan region of Nepal. The plant is sustainably harvested and handcrafted into paper following centuries old technique by local Nepalese artisans and ultimately producing these beautiful products. Besides being eco-friendly (and pretty!),these products bring considerable economic sustainability to rural Nepalese community.
It is indeed more than “just paper”.