“Art Bazaar Nepal” is a social enterprise project that connects local artisans with international designers to create collaboration and business partnership to create high end, high-value artisanal products for international customers.
The aim of this enterprise is to reinvigorate the dying profession of high-quality artisanship that Nepal is well known for centuries and provide a fair, ethical and transparent relationship among international artists, local artisans and the buyers of the product enabled by blockchain technology.
1. Tell me about your journey of starting this venture? When did it start?
My team members and I were having coffee and discussing the various types of business ideas at a café around Patan. We were brainstorming on various ideas from all the team members. Since Patan is famous for woodcraft and metalcraft and many other artistic works, one of our team members forwarded an idea of designing something different on wood, stone or metal and that was quite interesting. Then we started brainstorming ideas on what we could do on handicraft and art sector.
After market research, we figured that the market lacks youth involvement in designing handicraft goods due to low pay and many other reasons. We also figured that the centuries-old artisanship that Nepal is famous for is lagging behind to capture the international market and the profession is dying.
Personally, designs decorated on various handicraft products fascinate us. We believe that dedication is enrooted with interest. Working on a sector that interests you ultimately give you satisfaction.
Our business idea is on development stage and we have not officially started yet. We are still doing research on various parts to refine our idea before trial.
2. What stage is the company in?
The business idea is at its early stage. At this moment we are completely dedicating ourselves to market research since the market for handicraft is competitive and large.
3. What social problem are you trying to solve and what social change do you see your product or service can bring in society?
First of all, local artists are provided with minimal value for their hard work, and a large part of their profit margin is taken by the middlemen.
Secondly, it is also challenging for local artists to get in connection with the international market despite having ample potential.
Moreover, youths choose to opt-out of their family business, diminishing the local culture and tradition which is definitely a sorrowful scenario to the community.
Art Bazaar Nepal tries to solve the above-mentioned problems by creating an open trade platform where artists and jewelers from around the world will be able to connect to local artisans of Nepal and of South Asia to collaborate and develop high-quality artwork and jewelry. The online and offline marketplace will be powered by blockchain technology, this enables transparency and accountability to both parties involved and additionally to buyers.
Our company makes sure that the products are fairly sourced and the manpower that was used to make the products are fairly compensated.
4. What is your current staff strength and how many people did you start with?
Our team consists of 4 members who come from different educational backgrounds but have the same interest.
5. How did you raise funds to start your company?
To raise funds, team members will contribute 55% of the overall financing. Further 45% of financing will come from loans and equity debt. In the long run, we are looking for angel investors and venture capitalists. Will also be taking part in a various national and international competition for grants, recognition, and partnership as well.
6. What challenges did you face while starting the company and what are the challenges you are facing right now?
Every business faces problems at its development stages. The main problem we faced and are facing is on accessing actual data related to the artist’s involvement in handicraft production.
The export data is fluctuating so it is really hard to figure out which form of handicraft we will focus on. Since we are more focused on preserving craftsmanship, the problem also arises in segmenting the organic customers and their expectations.
7. How did you overcome your challenges?
The mentorship session facilitated by the organizing team helped us a lot to sort our problems. After going out to the market and having a series of interaction with our target customer it became easier to know about customer expectations.
8. Who are your target customers? How many customers (monthly basis) or client do you have?
Our local target customers are the artists from Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Janakpur who are already engaged in this business. Youth artists and local artists of these places are specially targeted.
We have a few national and international customers who are ready to work with us on our platform.
9. What is the business model for self-sufficiency or profit-making model?
We cannot totally say our business model for self-sufficiency. The business has not started yet. It is on its early design stage. We are looking forward to actually implement this idea on Nepali handicraft business market and promote it on the international targeted market.
Financially we require outside investment to expand it. We are planning to make our business profitable and viable.
10. What are the key needs of your company?
Mentorship is our most immediate need as a company so that we can understand and get views from diverse perspectives which will help to add transparency and feasibility to our business plan.
11. Do you consider yourself as a Social Entrepreneur?
I am a student. Let’s say I am a learner. I am exploring myself. I can’t say I am an entrepreneur right at this moment but am trying to do something of my own, and something that I am passionate about.
For more information about this company, please contact Sangeeta Poudel at email@example.com.
Interviewed and article written by Shambhavi Singh