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In Nepal, recycling still only really exists in theory. And for decades, waste entrepreneurs have not been respected in our society. The vision at Khaalisisi is to create a revolution in the recycling industry in Nepal by – a) making this boring business exciting and b) making it easier and faster for our Khaalisisi friends (waste entrepreneurs) to collect recyclable waste through our platform - khaalisisi.com
It’s a complete waste of time, for Khaalisisi friends to collect trash from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm going from alley to alley while most Nepalese are at work and not at home. So, this platform will help connect waste collectors to waste-sellers (households and businesses) through arranging waste collection schedule and pickup.
Khaalisisi does not want to disrupt the existing value chain – i.e. using their own logistics. Instead they'd rather improve the current system by making the work that Khaalisisi friends already doing far more efficient. The problems that Khaalisisi is trying to address are:
1. The lack of digital literacy among waste entrepreneurs (khaalisisi friends)
2. The huge gap between waste sellers and waste entrepreneurs.
3. The absence of data on recyclable waste.
4. The absence of recycling culture in Nepal
Normally, newspapers, used bottles and other recyclable trash are bought and/or collected by individual hawkers, either on foot or by bicycle, screaming their lungs out requesting recyclable trash in the streets of Kathmandu. These are our waste entrepreneurs, locally known as khaalisisi walas which translates to “empty bottles”. There are around 13,000 khaalisis walas operating in the Kathmandu. These waste entrepreneurs roam around the city freely with no fixed schedule for collecting waste. This means households and offices have to wait until a khaalisisi wala happens to pass by. It is a highly inefficient process for both the waste generators and the khaalisisi wala, as they constantly miss each other.
Khaalisisi seeks to match demand and supply more efficiently by acting as an intermediary between trash collectors and trash generators, saving time and effort in the collection of waste and generating revenue for company operation, and improving the welfare of Khaalisisi Friends (KSFs). Households and offices which need to dispose of their trash can simply use Khaalisisi.com to schedule a convenient pick-up time. These customers are given a choice either to sell or donate their trash. If they choose to donate, 10 percent of the money made from selling on the trash to recycling businesses will go towards the welfare of the Khaalisisi Friends. Khaalisisi as a nexus maintains a database of both KSF and customer information, and the details of each transaction. The database is used to map out future collections and track the progress of current ones. It also maintains the network between customers, businesses, the KSFs and the recycling plants.
During her college days, Aayushi KC started her entrepreneurial journey by opening a college canteen with her friends. Her first business venture was a success, which helped her realize that the most important thing in life is to identify a problem and create value by addressing it. People are willing to pay for those services that solve their problems. This is the basic mantra for Aayushi KC as she enters the business of trash management.
Kathmandu has been suffering from a crisis in trash management over the past 20 years, and increased migration has only intensified the problem. The registered population of Kathmandu Valley is less than 1.4 million, but the actual population may be over 4 million. Unlike in cities in developed countries where waste is managed on a large scale, the trash here is left to rot outside, posing a health hazard. Moreover, the disposal of waste in landfill sites has become problematic, due to the politics of “not in my backyard” and shortages of public land. It is normal to find the streets in Kathmandu littered with trash. The scenario is no different than when Aayushi was in college. She believes that waste management is the next big problem of Kathmandu to tackle. She started looking at the waste sector during her college days and this is how she ended up establishing khaalisisi.com.
Khaalisisi strives to fulfill the UN sustainable goals such as #6 clean water and sanitation, #10 reduce inequality and #11 Sustainable cities and communities, #12 responsible consumption and production.
Khaalisisi is here to revolutionize the way trash is handled by everyone from businesses to households. It aims to bring about behavioral change in people with a message that trash is each individual's responsibility. Khaalsisi mobilizes KSFs, who are micro entrepreneurs in themselves, to generate cash from trash. The overall impact of khaalisisi.com can be highlighted as:
a) Economic – Khaalisisi connects waste entrepreneurs to different businesses where they previously did not have access. Earlier, Khaalisis walas had to go around all day on their bicycles or on foot, unsure whether they would collect enough trash. Instead, Khaalisisi provides them guaranteed business, at a mutually convenient time.
b) Social – The Khaalisisi walas or waste entrepreneurs are highly discriminated in society. The job they do has low social status and most are illiterate migrant workers residing in slum areas. At Khaalisisi, they are changing the mindset of people in society by making waste entrepreneurs heroes and champions of our society. As a result, we are witnessing a great change in the attitude towards waste entrepreneurs.
c) Awareness – Waste-entrepreneurs have been educating themselves about their value to society. Before this, their motivation was solely pecuniary. However, now they understand the value they create through their role in the waste-management industry.
Khaalisisi charges 15 percent commission for every trash collection transaction. The current applied rate is Rs2 per kilogram for bottles and Rs10 per kilogram for newspapers. A large transaction will fetch from Rs100 to Rs200 ($1 to $2) at most and this occurs mainly with B2C clients.
However, the given the population size of Kathmandu at more than 4 million, the total waste generated is tremendous. This makes supply of trash constant and there is a wide variety of clients. Trash collection is a daily activity but in some places collection happens on a monthly basis. Khaalisisi focuses more on B2B clients where the volume of trash is large and is getting between 8-10 orders per day. Since the business is only recently established, there is tremendous scope for expansion and it aims to receive 50 orders per day from next year. Being a digital platform Khaalisisi enjoys all the business advantages of e-commerce. Another main business benefit is creating good public relations and networks.
Currently, Khaalisisi provides job opportunities to 7-8 staff members and membership to 94 waste collectors in Kathmandu. As a result the entrepreneurs have seen a 20-30 percent increase in their monthly income. To summarize, Khaalisisi empowers all the waste entrepreneurs, brings them together in a digital sphere making it possible for them to expand beyond their previous reach. The business of Khaalisisi is a near perpetual business as trash something as raw material will always exist.
The major social and environmental benefits from Khaalisisi is in changing the attitude of people towards trash management and towards Khaalisisi friends (KSF), who are normally perceived to exist on the bottom rung of society, while generating business opportunities for them.
The business is revolutionizing the waste management industry by focusing on the 3R's of waste management (reduce, reuse and recycle). It saves resources including time, money and energy. As mentioned in khaalisisi.com "recycling one ton of paper saves about 20 trees, can generate 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to power a house for five months, eliminates 27 kilograms of air pollutants and saves 36 liters of oil". Moreover, recycling plastic and glass both saves energy and protects the environment from harmful chemicals seeping into groundwater, as happens if trash is buried in landfill.
Aayushi KC, Founder