US-based Nepalese women to replicate Maker Fest in Kathmandu

  • Maker Fest organisers to expand the event across Indian cities


Ahemedabad, Jan 8: Fast shaping up as a stellar event in India on innovation, creativity and early entrepreneurship, the Maker Fest is all set for replication beyond the country’s shores with two New York-based enterprising women of ethnic Nepalese origin scheduled to hold the event in Kathmandu with technical support and mentoring from Indian organisers.

Yangchen Dolker Gurung and Sibani Karki, the alumnae of Columbia University, have planned to hold the event next year. “The dates are not firmed up but most probably it will be held in May of 2018,” they said.

The Maker Fest is a homegrown version of the enormously popular Maker Faire that began in California in 2006 and is now held in several cities of the US, Europe, Japan, Brazil and Africa. It was introduced in India in 2013 by US-based angel investor and entrepreneur Asha Jadeja Motwani, whose late husband Rajeev Motwani was a Stanford professor and a mentor to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin.

Dolker and Karki, who were attendees at the January 6-8 fourth edition of Maker Fest that is annually held in Ahmedabad, said, “Nepal is ready for an event like Maker Fest. There is an abundance of talents raring to dabble in entrepreneurship and showcase their products. All they need is a trigger and some institutional backing.”

The two girls, who finished their Masters last year, said they have been assured of all logistical and technical support for the Kathmandu event by Asha, who commands a massive reputation in the US as a serial angel investor and entrepreneur. 

“The idea to organise Maker Fest is to display products of people who attempt to solve problems through innovative means. Its basic objective is to spark off creativity and instill confidence in people to take risk with their ideas — risks not just in terms of money but also time and passion,"  said Asha, who had introduced Maker Faire in Africa’s Cairo(Egypt) before she brought the event to India.

“I would be extremely delighted to help Dolker and Karki in all possible ways for conducting the event in Nepal,” assured the venture capitalist who has also the reputation of introducing the Maker Faire in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.  

Dolker and Karki, who are based in the US but have family ties in Nepal, have a special interest in creating social enterprises. “We are trying to create a entrepreneurial environment for youths and makers in Nepal and beyond. We also want to create a space for students and the local community to have an incubator hub like innovation lab that is a self-sustainable entrepreneurial process,” they pointed out.

Their plan is to replicate successful maker fest events that have happened in Ahmedabad and other cities in India and give it a local twist for Nepal. “We envision that this will provide fundamental tools for the country to be a part of the global producers/makers rather than just importers,” they said. 

“We are hoping to partner with engineering/ architect schools and local community organisations (i.e. scientific/art/design communities, individuals, doers, makers, thinkers) to make this a huge success. We eventually intend to grow relationships with Ministry of Science and Technology in Nepal to expand it further,” said Dolker. 

“If some of the makers in the Kathmandu event are selected for the Rajeev Circle Fellowship for a stint at Silicon Valley, it would give an impetus to the Nepalese makers,” she hoped.

The Kathmandu event is important as it will encourage and nurture Nepali youths’ fledging ventures at both micro and macro levels by providing a co-space and mentorship in the country and beyond in cities like New York and Silicon Valley. 

 Dolker and Karki, who are co-working on a start-up geared towards women entrepreneurship and empowerment, said they would be partnering with Maker Fest in Ahmedabad to launch the event not only in Nepal but also countries like Burma, Bhutan and Bangladesh, where there are entrepreneurial seeds already. 

Asha, who has announced creation of a public limited company to scale up the event to enable Indian startups leapfrog to exponential growth, said the Maker Fest would now move beyond Gujarat to expand its footprints across Indian cities.

“In February this year, the fest will be held in Rajkot. Several cities, including Delhi,  have shown interest in holding this event, and we would be happy to collaborate with them,” she said.



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