Yajaswi, a development study graduate has always been interested in Gender and Environment, which is what led her to start Leklekk: The Green Wave, a startup that will be providing a number of eco friendly alternatives to the market in future. She is one of the finalists of Udhyami Yuva Challenge who went through a 5 day long intensive bootcamp.
Read the interview with her to know more about her venture Leklekk: The Green Wave and her new yet exciting journey as a social entrepreneur.
1. How did the concept of Leklekk: The Green Wave ideate?
I have always been conscious of the way we use plastic. One day my dog got sick because he mistakenly ate plastic that was lying around at my place. But my brother and I took care of it, had we not noticed that our dog was sick we would have lost him. So, that particular incident made me more keen on replacing plastic with something sustainable. But very few alternatives are available in the market which pushed me to start Leklekk: The Green Wave.
2. Can you tell us more about Leklekk: The Green Wave?
I officially registered Leklekk: The Green Wave in 2019 focusing mainly on two areas- Give and Grow. Under Give, we introduce new environment friendly products targeting the hospitality and education sector. So, we sell those products to them with a condition that they give us back once the product has been used to full capacity. The major reason behind this is rather than throwing the products as waste and causing pollution, we will be recycling them. Likewise, Grow is all about replenishing the source from which we get our resources that is used on a daily basis. To be more precise paper is something that we use on a daily basis and since it comes from trees, we work on planting trees to ensure that the source is strong. For this we are working with people from indigenous communities and working mothers, both inside and outside the valley.
3. What motivated you to take part in Udhyami Yuva Challenge?
As I mentioned, I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2019 but I was new to this sector. Yes, I have experience of working in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,but I don’t have first hand knowledge since I wasn’t directly involved. So, I wanted to gain experience and learn about it and joining a startup competition like UYC was the best possible way. In addition to this UYC was focusing on entrepreneurs and the environment, which perfectly matched the area I was working in.
4. Have you been able to fully operationalize Leklekk: The Green Wave as of now?
Our Grow part is something that needs to be in the economic value chain but we have not yet dive into that. But as a tree plantation we have collaborated with other organizations and planted around 700 trees.
And regarding the Give part, we have already collaborated with one school, two NGOs and few restaurants. We are importing bamboo toothbrushes whose packaging takes place here in Nepal and is 100% eco-friendly. We have been selling these bamboo toothbrushes to the NGOs and they return the box packages back to us, to which we discount Rs.5 from their net purchase amount next time. These are concepts that I have been able to operationalize as of now.
5. What are the major challenges that you face?
To make people believe and understand that products we are offering is also possible and can be used as normally as using plastic products is very difficult. People are very well aware that plastic is bad but they tend to hesitate replacing them with other eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives. Even my family was skeptical in the very beginning. So making people believe in you and use products that they have never used before is definitely a tough egg to crack.
6. What is your team strength?
As of now we have only one full time staff who is my associate. Apart from that I have two other people who help me with Finance and Logistics. Likewise I also have a team member in Bhojpur who is helping me connect to people and indigenous community there, where we are planning to do our Grow part. So, in total we have five people working at Leklekk: The Green Wave, two full time and three part time.
7. How was your experience as a UYC bootcamp participant been and what were your key learning?
We had 9 sessions and all of them were really fruitful and productive for me, I learned a lot during this 5 day program. But there were three specific sessions that I loved and enjoyed the most. The first was the session by Binay Devkota where he talked about goal setting and the role it played in the successful operation of an enterprise. After this session, I was able to write down what I wanted for Leklekk: The Green Wave, clearly and precisely. This has really helped me shift my focus to important aspects for the growth of my business. The other session was by Tenzin Sonam on investment. To state it in clear terms that particular session broadened my horizon on what investment is. And the third best session was related to Digital Marketing where I learned about leveraging social media to reach my target market.
I also loved the session by Eva on communication where she mentioned that when communicating your product to the market, you don’t ask people to buy your product instead you communicate the benefits that they will get from it. This is something I will always have in my mind.
8. If you win the seed fund of Rs.100000, how are you planning to use it?
I have planned to use it for manufacturing new products that I have in the pipeline. Then, I will be using it for marketing purposes mainly via social media to increase the outreach of Leklekk: The Green Wave and to expand it. Further, I will also be using it as working capital to run the day to day activities of the business.
9. How has your business evolved post bootcamp?
My business has been the same but there have been certain changes in the way I’d operate in the future. In one of the sessions I learned about the importance of having a strong internal structure which is currently missing at Leklekk: The Green Wave as we have very few people working. So, that is what I will be working on. Likewise, I have been looking into Blincventures.com’s resource section to further strengthen my business.
10. How has your journey as a social entrepreneur been so far?
There is this view surrounding entrepreneurship that entrepreneurs have to decide on whether they want money or want to do good for the society. And when you are able to choose one then you are in the path of successful entrepreneurship. But I have a different view. For me both these things, doing good and earning, are equally important. They are like two sides of the same coin. So, having these two things in alignment is one of the challenges as a social entrepreneur.
But the exciting thing is I have learned that it is also the biggest advantage when you are out there selling your products. You can tell your people and your customers that you are here not just to earn money but to do good and I am not saying this because I am a social entrepreneur. If I were a customer, I would prefer to buy from someone that is not all about money and is actively working for the betterment of the society. So, you know, that is what is making this journey fun.
11. Any other thing you’d like to share with us?
People when they visit my place often question me that, despite being against plastic, why do I still have it and it is valid from their perspective. So, I’d like to say that being against the use of plastic does not mean you just throw it rather it means you reuse what you already have and reduce buying more of it. For instance, if you have a plastic brush, shifting to an eco-friendly toothbrush does not mean you throw away the plastic brush. You have to use it as long as possible and then the next time you buy yourself a new brush you can get an eco-friendly toothbrush.
For more information about LekLekk, please connect with Yajaswi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviewed and article by Trishna Shakya.