Many Nepalis are worried about growing consumerism and throw-away culture, but most shrug and move on because they think one person cannot change the world.
But not Shubu Tewari and Uttam Kaphle. Both were working in the development sector, and felt they should do something concrete to prove that sustainability made business sense. They could make a difference by shedding their indifference.
Unlike a linear economy which begins in extraction and ends in disposal, the circular economy keeps materials in use for as long as possible, making maximum use of them and minimising resource extraction and waste. Tewari and Kaphle studied models for a circular economy that would work in the Nepal business context.
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Tewari and Kaphle zeroed in on e-waste, researched the mobile phone market and customer behaviour, and set up Sabko Phone. They were shocked to find out that Nepal officially imports 6 million cell phones a year valued at Rs 24billion. So, they decided to focus on repairing and refurbishing phones. In April 2019, SabKo Phone was born.
Sitting in a sunny corner of their bright, airy office in Sanepa, Tewari and Kaphle explain that most Nepalis seek a phone upgrade every 15 months. They found that 40% of old phones were just lying around the house unused, and could be refurbished.