Anjana Malla, a full time student and the co-founder of Deego Nepal has been handling both the roles like a pro with her other two co-founders, Mahalaxmi and Rajani. These three women started their journey as entrepreneurs with the vision of mitigating the climate crisis and unsustainable living that the world along with Nepal is facing, through their small yet impactful step “Deego Nepal”.
Nepal is a sustainable brand that is providing eco-friendly products to people to help them take a step towards sustainability.
Read our interview with Anjana to know more about Deego Nepal.
1. How did the concept of Deego Nepal ideate?
Climate Crisis and lack of sustainability is one of the most pressing issues of our generation. What I personally believe is that this huge problem can be solved by a small step from each one of us. All that is needed is a change in our way of living. So, I along with Rajani and Mahalaxmi ma’am wanted to do our part to at least mitigate this problem. For this, we started considering a number of ideas. The first thing that we considered was recycling the plastics that we found around like the wrappers, bottles and so on. But after some research we found that, it wasn’t enough. Plastic products are everywhere, whose recycling consumes more energy, is expensive & ends up in landfills or either gets burnt contributing to climate change in various ways.
In order to bring the changes in our lifestyle, after reducing, reuse , up/recycle practice eventually we needed alternatives to environmentally unfriendly products. Lack of affordable, Eco-friendly alternatives in the market is one of the biggest challenges for sustainable living. So, innovating more eco-friendly alternatives locally works at it’s best . Hence, we decided on creating a brand that offers eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to help people take a small step towards sustainability. That is how Deego Nepal was ideated.
2. What is the significance behind the name “Deego”?
Deego means Sustainable and the word perfectly fits with our vision of creating a sustainable future. So, after much brainstorming we decided to go with this word and it is also a Nepali word which we believe would make it easier for our customers to connect with us.
3. What are the different products Deego Nepal offers?
We are currently offering bamboo toothbrushes, Tote bags, paper pens, Painting decors and apart from this, we offer Upcycled accessories such as pouches,travel roll up, scrunchies, earrings that are handmade of wooden beads and pearls.
Except for bamboo toothbrushes, all our products are made by women in Nepal. We did want to manufacture bamboo toothbrushes here in Nepal, but due to financial constraints we have not been able to do that. We will be creating more essential alternatives in the coming days.
Apart from products, we prioritize to advocate for sustainable living. Collaborating with organizations, youths and to create awareness related to understanding sustainability, responsible consumption and forming a bigger community of like-minded people.
4. Are the products like scrunchies, tote bags, pouches made in house or out house?
All of them are made in house. Mahalaxmi ma’am is an expert in stitching and knitting. So, she along with one local woman makes scrunchies, bags, pouches and all those that are related to stitching and knitting. Whereas I, Rajani and Sangita help in products like paper pens, earrings and packaging. So, apart from the toothbrush all our products are made in Nepal using the local resources.
5. Where can people find your products? Do you have an offline store?
People can order our products from our Instagram and Facebook page. So, as of now we are limited to being online based. Apart from that, we have showcased our products in stalls of a number of events. We also tried putting our products in the stores that promoted local hand-made products,but found it to be infeasible for now because the cost of our products is often increased and we don’t want that. We want to make our products affordable to the customers. In the future if we will be able to manage the cost and affordability of our users we would love to keep them in most stores.
6. How do you get the products delivered?
Actually, all three of us are involved in the delivery of products to our customers as of now. We live in three different parts of Kathmandu- Sanepa, Swayambhu and Balwatar. So, the one who lives nearest to the place where the product is to be delivered takes the responsibility. Recently, we also have one part time delivery person. But in future, once we are well-established, we are planning to hire a full time delivery person.
7. What were the challenges you faced when you started out?
I left a stable job to give my full time to Deego Nepal and many people questioned my decision, even my parents at first. It is understandable in a sense that our parents want us to have a secure life and entrepreneurship involves a lot of risk. There is a high degree of uncertainty. So, convincing my parents was the very first challenge when I started out but now they are supportive.
Likewise, all three of us are from the social background. So we have very few knowledge of business and understanding this area which was completely new to us was a challenge in itself. Then another challenge I would say is the business environment itself. We have organizations like Blincventures.com who always help us, guide and encourage small businesses like ours. I personally think there are sort of unhealthy competitions too. We must never forget that each of us are here with a purpose to make this world a better place to live and together we stay strong.
I and my team take all these challenges as a fuel which motivates us to work even harder. Also as an opportunity which helps to grow strong and prepare for the next thing that is coming.
8. How do you balance your studies and your role as a founder of Deego Nepal? Also, how did you make up your mind to leave a stable job for something that is full of uncertainty?
When you are passionate about something, I think you learn to balance things out. Being a student and the founder of Deego Nepal are equally important for me. I have classes in the morning and after that I give my time to Deego. Also, my team is super supportive, they are the reason I have been able to take forward my studies as well as Deego Nepal simultaneously.
Talking about how I made up my mind, I have always wanted to do something of my own, do things differently and bring changes with my ideas and creativity. Further, I have worked in INGOs and NGOs where everything is donor dependent. So, to create an impact we had to wait for donations and grants. And that is a challenge in sustaining itself. So, I decided to create an impact being self-sufficient and entrepreneurship was the answer to that. Also, things are not rigid here, you get to explore, learn and face new challenges in every step and that is what intrigued me. So, I chose this path.
9. Can you tell us about your team?
We have a total of 5 people working in Deego Nepal as of now. I and Rajani mostly look at execution, handling social media and operational work whereas Mahalaxmi looks after production, quality checking with two other members.
10. Is there anything you’d like to share?
If you want to do something and if you are passionate about it, go for it no matter what others say. All you need to do is trust and believe in yourself and give your 100%. The challenges shouldn’t stop you; you need to take risks to achieve your dreams. This is what I did which led to Deego Nepal.
And because of Deego Nepal, I can proudly say that I feel happy and content. It has helped me realize my potential and the fact that I am lucky to have such great people in my life. So, I look forward to staying good by doing good!
Interviewed and article by Trishna Shakya.