Kathmandu, Nepal


BijuliPower (Electric-Vehicle)

Safa-Tempo Drivers in Crisis

COVID-19/Lockdown Impact

The lockdown imposed in Nepal due to COVID-19 is affecting everyone’s livelihoods. The daily-wage workers like the safa-tempo drivers are the ones most affected by this lockdown. We interviewed some of the daily wage workers we work with through our product BijuliPower. It has been over 80 days now since the lockdown was imposed with a strict rule of social distancing and complete stop on public transportation. This impacted our safa tempo drivers adversely with no means of income. They don’t have any income sources to pay their loans, rather they are struggling to survive in Kathmandu with basic food supply and rent issues, as many are from areas outside of the Kathmandu Valley.

Some women drivers were able to go back to their villages which saved them a lot of money. Unfortunately, some couldn’t go back due to the sudden nature of the lockdown. One safa tempo driver that went back home felt like she didn’t fit in with the village lifestyle as she is used to living in the city. When they decided to come back to the city, her landlord wouldn’t allow her due to worries about covid transmission. This is sad for the safa tempo driver but it’s also a measure of precaution that the landlord had to take.

As we talked more, they shared with us their concern for their child’s education as everything is now online but without a daily wage, she couldn’t afford the internet fees. With so many urgent priorities, they don’t want to have to worry about education, but this is still causing a lot of stress. Regarding their business in the safa tempo industry, most women were hesitant and anxious because so far the public transportation business seems risky even once the lockdown lifts.

One woman driver shared she had to take responsibilities for 3 families with zero savings and solely with the income from safa tempo. Her husband has three wives including her and he is currently jobless. Right now, their sole income source is gone. This is the reason why this safa tempo driver says she would hesitate to take a future loan for upgrading the battery of her tempo. An increase in the Electric Vehicle taxes by the Nepal government has the safa tempo drivers worried about their future in this industry also.

To help these women in crisis Aloi launched a crowd funding campaign for 55 families of safa tempo drivers who were struggling for basic food supplies. We successfully surpassed the targeted number of families and have helped 196 families with 301 food packages distributed so far. We hope to help these families in this crucial situation brought by COVID-19.


Webinar | Sida | UNCDF

Building financially resilient economies for the last mile populations

COVID-19 has impacted our financial and social systems and the world over is losing their jobs and seeing their incomes and assets erode. The pandemic is, therefore, putting the financial health of individuals, communities and by implication, entire countries at stake. UNCDF and Sida had organized a webinar that talked about how a financial health lens could help us address the needs and aspirations of individuals and communities most susceptible to the financial crisis in the last mile.

This webinar emphasizes building financially resilient economies for the last mile populations. It also sheds light on the role of digital as an enabler, as well as the varied models and solutions that UNCDF is using and/or repurposing to address the financial needs of vulnerable people: particularly women and informal workers, including those in the gig economy, along with migrant laborers..

Listen to what panelists from different professional backgrounds around the globe have to say on making a financially resilient economy for the last mile population.

Click here!

Podcast, Sustainability

World Environment Day 2020

Virtual escape room & AIESEC podcast

For the occasion of World Environment Day 2020 (hosted by the UN Environment Programme), our team, under our product brand name BijuliPower, organized a virtual escape room competition. Called “Save the Earth and the Earth will Save You,” the participants had to solve riddles, decode cyphers and answer questions related to the environment in order to escape the room in the shortest time possible to win.

We had a lot of participants joining us from Nepal as well as from other countries. We would like to congratulate team Youngpreneurs for winning the escape room. On behalf of the winning team, BijuliPower is donating emergency food worth of 130 USD (NPR.15,000) to 10 families working in Kathmandu’s safa tempo sector (public electric minibuses).

Thank you to all the participants for joining us for the World Environment Day celebration through our virtual escape room!

Do you want to try it yourself? Click here to play!

Fintech, Sustainability

Farmers & Livestock Owners in Crisis

Lockdown Impact on farmers and livestock owners

Regrow is our agriculture product and for the pilot, we partnered with Mahila Sahayatra Laghubitta Bittiya Sanstha, microfinance. This microfinance has borrowers mainly from farming households, livestock, and animal husbandry owners. Since the Nepal Government announced lockdown, the borrowers haven’t been able to go from district to district for a market to sell/buy. Their livelihood is in danger and are under debt they are not able to pay.

At this crucial time, they aren’t even getting a market for their product and their income source is almost nothing right now. For food supplies, these farmers rely on their production. Farming, which used to be their main source of income has now become useful just for their sustenance. Other than this, for covering small expenses one woman farmer quoted that, “apart from welding iron utensils, we earn from farming and working as a laborer in other farms. So somehow, I am managing to repay the loan from the earnings from welding iron for now.”

One farmer shared that the peas harvested in this season went to waste because normally, before the lockdown the collectors would come and collect it from the farm. Because of the lockdown, it’s not possible to sell even in their local market because their product is greater than the market demand. As a result, the wastage of pea cost each farmer NPR. 30,000-50,000. For the livestock and animal husbandry as well, the scenario is the same, neither they can sell their products nor they can buy due to no cash flow. Normally, farmers and livestock owners would re-pay their loan through this but sadly they aren’t able to do that right now.

For farmers and livestock owners suffering from numerous problems including loan re-payment, Aloi Private Limited has built a system that can monitor financial transactions to ensure that the funds have been used for the intended purpose. Most of the time what happens is these people take up loans initially for their occupational purpose but they end up using it for their household expenditure. To track these funds we link the recipient of funds with the vendors they will spend the funds on. For example; if we provide a digital token loan to Ram, a farmer then he can only use that token loan to buy goods and services like seeds, fertilizers, or agriculture skill training. The restriction isn’t bound to how much or when he spends it on but the restriction is on if he spends the token loan for his intended purpose or not. This solves a major issue of tracking funds. This will help farmers like Ram to spend their loans wisely for a greater return rather than general expenses.

As phones are easily accessible to farmers and livestock owners, we have used SMS as token loans. SMS is easier to operate for taking and processing loans with less or no requirement of mobility. These farmers use SMS to request token loans from Regrow system likewise, it is used by the farmer to pay our registered vendor for the payment of the purchased goods. Later on, the vendor then redeems the token loan through our partnered microfinance. This will be a huge help for faster transaction processing in times of crisis like COVID-19 where mobility is restricted.

Our technology helps in providing accessible and affordable financial services to support these farmers and livestock owners with utmost inclusivity of borrowers regardless of gender or any other social status. The trackable digitized loan helps them gain credibility in taking up loans that usually isn’t trusted by lenders (microfinance). During this pandemic, many people aren’t able to pay off their loans so by monitoring we are reducing the lending risks for microfinance and ultimately moving towards lower interest rates. This benefits both parties; the borrowers and the microfinance organization.