khaalisisi : putting their name on it while claiming the high ground
There are many great, strong service providers in the world. There are people who have made it their passion to follow what they believe in, which in turn helps others in need. Here, ‘others’ means the environment. Khaalisisi. com is one such platform that keeps being as innovative as they can be. From what I have learned from Aayushi KC, the Founder and CEO at Khaalisisi, who also got listed in the 30 Under 30 Asia 2018: Social Entrepreneurs for Forbes, it takes perseverance, decisiveness, tenacity, and patience. There’s no moment of rest, and you have to be all in. This is a slow-paced, but highly necessary business. To get ahead and stay there you must constantly identify ways to innovate, improve service and ensure exceptional compliance and safety. At the same time, your values are the framework. Doing the right thing must be the basis for every decision you make. For them, putting people and the environment first is key.
HOW DID THIS IDEA COME ABOUT? WERE YOU THINKING OF DOING SOMETHING LOCALLY FROM THE START?
I was always inclined towards doing something for the environment or working with kids. But I didn’t know what to do. All I was aware of was the terms reuse and recycle. So, it was just on a surficial basis. I was thinking about opening an NGO that dealt with waste but then life happened after college; I got better offers and good jobs. I became a gypsy when it came to work because I was always shifting jobs. I think it was because I never got that challenge or that impact. Then, I decided there was so much more to do, starting from the local level itself. So, I was in the middle because I had a job already but I wanted to do something on my own that could benefit the environment.
There isn’t any fancy story for Khaalisisi; it wasn’t like I didn’t have a shoe so I started a shoe company. However, I did my research and I wanted to figure out a sustainable model that benefits the environment. It took me almost 8 months to prepare myself to be ready and that’s how Khaalisisi came to life.
WHAT ABOUT THE NAME OF THE ORGANIZATION?
The term ‘Khaalisisi’ has been in our culture for decades now and people are familiar with it. So, it’s is just a modern twist with a .com on that tradition. If everything is changing with time with the inclusion of technology and a system, then why not waste management as well. And when you hear the name Khaalisisi, you already know what it is about, which is always important.
WERE THERE ANY CHALLENGES FOR YOU IN THIS INDUSTRY? IF YES, COULD YOU ELABORATE?
I started Khaalisisi after my marriage, when I was already in a good job. When I talked to my family about it, they asked me why I was quitting a job when it was going well. There were a lot of speculations surrounding this idea. And this was the main challenge: If I cannot make my family understand, then how can I make others understand?
But I went ahead with it and registered the company. That’s when the next challenge came in. There are different sets of objectives that you need to have as a company and according to that you’re put in a category. But with Khaalisisi there wasn’t anything like that. So, the closest was that of Kawadiwala under which I got registered. I was happy that I got a legal start, but that got me worried about our system as it doesn’t recognize innovative ideas. It’s just not in the framework. I knew then that I had more challenges ahead.
When I started connecting with the khaalisisi dais from different areas, there was an issue because they were not aware about the .coms, or going parallel to my idea of revolution. Some of them even laughed because they don’t care about it all. But what they did understand is the business, and if they were to get more business, it’s their primary motivation to work. And most of all, they understand hard work because they have been doing this for so long.
Then again, most of them have asked me where the “sir” was because they had not seen a female heading a business.
What do you think is the milestone in this business for you?
Ramsagar Dai was my first Khaalisisi dai and he has seven kids. When he went back home to his family, he told me that he had earned Rs. 3000 more than what he used to. He told me that he got gifts for everyone. This was during the prototype phases and it made me really happy. This joyous result was due to the hard work that was put in. When I told him this, he gave me a very convinced smile. And that’s when
I saw that labor shows itself in the form of result. That has been my biggest learning throughout the journey. And now, people who used to call Khaalisisi Dai’s as bhaiyas have started calling them with their names. They came to meetings and feel the dignity of their own labor. I used to think it was all for money, but it is for their self-respect and worth.
IF EVERYTHING IS CHANGING WITH
TIME WITH THE INCLUSION OF
TECHNOLOGY AND A SYSTEM, THEN
WHY NOT WASTE MANAGEMENT AS
WELL. AND WHEN YOU HEAR THE NAME
KHAALISISI, YOU ALREADY KNOW
WHAT IT IS ABOUT, WHICH IS ALWAYS
HOW DOES KHAALISISI WORK? WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
We have a very lean management system. We have a network of Khaalisisi friends around the office and we have a network or scrapyards too, and also with the people who buy recycled stuff. We ourselves, we don’t recycle yet. But, Khaalisisi is all about collaboration.
When someone collects the waste, they bring it over to the nearest scrapyard. After the separation is done they are segregated into types and then it is further sold to other processors and made sure that it doesn’t end up in landfills.
DO YOU ALSO COLLABORATE WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS?
Like I said, we are all about collaborations. We work with everyone who has waste. Right now, it might look like we are just doing trash collection, but it is beyond that. We collaborate with schools and bring the kids over to the scrapyards and show them the different types of trash and how it can be recycled. The Khaalisisi Dais do the orientation and they learn about it from them. It is a nice insight for the kids and it turns their perspective as well, as we have been taught not to go around Khaalisisi Dais for they will kidnap them. This is a nice change for the Dais too and the children get to know hard-working men.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
Our Vision at Khaalisisi is to build Nepal to be the world’s Top 20 Recycling Nations by 2030. Nepal is globally known for Everest, Buddha, Gurkha, but we are so much more. We are a gorgeous nation. But have we realized our potential in serving the best example for nature and environment? That’s what we intend to do.
WORDS : SHREEYA SANGROULA | PHOTOS: GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR