In conversation with Miss Bhawana Shrestha, co-founder of My Emotions Matter, a social enterprise that recognizes the importance of emotional intelligence and introspection to lead a better life.
1. Could you introduce My Emotions Matter to us?
We are a values-based education company that creates self-reflective learning experiences to improve school and organizational climate through emotional intelligence. We believe in a self-aware and empathetic world; where people are aware, intentional, and purposeful.
2. What are the social problems that you are trying to solve?
Without self-awareness, it is difficult to make choices that are aligned with our values and the kind of person we wish to be. Without emotional intelligence, we might find ourselves lost in our own thoughts and might hesitate to express ourselves. We might pursue careers that might not prove to be meaningful to us.
Lack of emotional intelligence can lead to frustrations and inability to manage our emotions at both home and work. We want people to develop the life skills of EI so that they can lead their lives with more awareness, intention, and purpose.
3. What are the channels through which you reach out to your customers?
With the kind of work we do, we rely mostly on word of mouth. We make sure we create value for people we serve so that they can happily recommend our services to people they care about. We’ve been active on social media like Instagram and LinkedIn, and we also release weekly podcasts to reach out to people we look to serve.
4. Could you tell us about your journey of starting this venture?
I started to work as a teacher in 2013 as part of the Teach for Nepal fellowship. Although I did receive rigorous training to meet the requirements of the fellowship, I still had very little experience in teaching. I was a topper in my school but I soon realized that being a good student was not enough to become a good teacher.
Every day I used to question myself: why weren’t my students able to learn better? I started questioning my teaching strategies and researching to find a better strategy. At the same time, I started noticing how my students reacted to my teaching. Then, I began to understand that different things matter, that emotions matter! My emotions as a teacher matter, the students’ emotions matter, and when we come together in interaction it creates a synergy, which equally matters!
I began to understand, that my students came from difficult families having different problems so it was really difficult for them to cope. This largely affected how we interacted in class. After completing my fellowship, I wondered if college students were also affected by emotions. During this process, I started to work as a full-time faculty at Kings College and realized that there was a similar problem with undergraduate students too.
There, I also met my Co-founder Sagar Satyal who was mentoring three of my students. He also had his own journey. Although he was academically brilliant, he mentioned in his own words “I graduated as a topper, but with a very little self-knowledge.” He says that he took many wrong decisions in his life and while struggling with personal tragedies and searching for the meaning of life, he was able to find his way through emotional intelligence.
After meeting with him, we started to mentor three students, from three we went to six students and within two years we were able to develop a mentor-ship department. Through research, we learned that students want teachers with emotional intelligence. Their best teachers weren’t the ones with the highest levels of IQ, but with high levels of empathy and emotional intelligence. So, with these findings, we realized there was a huge problem that needed solutions. Thus, we registered our company on the 10th of March 2018 as a Pvt. Ltd. Company.
5. What were the challenges that you had to face as an entrepreneur?
It is challenging to manage all the aspects of the business like legal, HR, and tax aspects. The concept of EI is new for Nepal so it takes time to convince people about the long term benefits of cultivating such skills. People identify more with concepts like counseling and mental health, but we are not the same. So it is a bit of a challenge to show that our services are of a different nature.
6. How are you able to overcome the above-mentioned challenges?
We’ve been consistent in our marketing messages. The best way to assure people of our value proposition is to manage ourselves accordingly. Integrity is one of our values so we try to honor that. As a result, word of mouth has been pretty strong. As far as balancing all the aspects of the venture go, we are passionate about living a meaningful life and this venture adds a lot of meaning to our life. So we see it as a meaningful challenge rather than something that is burdensome.
7. What are your current challenges in terms of running a business and what are your needs?
Finding new clients and retaining them is always a challenge. Additionally, finding people to join our team who are both self-aware and aligned with our value system is difficult. But, with enough patience and perseverance, we hope to sustain and grow.
8. How many customers are you currently serving on a monthly/daily basis?
We are working with 4 clients on a monthly basis. We also organize sessions for individual participants occasionally.
9. What are your different sources of investments?
We believe in growing organically. Our investment is in the form of our time, energy, as well as physical and mental effort.
10. Would you say My Emotions Matter has profitability, scalability and market
The World Economic Forum predicts Emotional Intelligence will be the 6th most important skill in the workplace by 2020. Sooner or later, people will realize the need for EI. We are hopeful we will be the first name that comes to their minds when they think of emotional intelligence. Regardless, some things are so important that you need to keep doing anyway. This venture means that much to us.
11. Is there a way you have been able to measure the impact of your business?
Pre and post session assessments have suggested to us that the session has been impactful for the participants. A high rate of word of mouth is also a positive indicator. Our quantitative data also shows that 84% of our clients felt more focused on their goals and more than 90% of our clients have said that they’ll recommend this program to someone else.
12. How are you able to retain your customers, and build a business model?
Instead of trying to find new customers, we are always looking to provide the best value to our existing clients. Training, consulting, and research make up for our business model.
13. So, would you consider yourself a social entrepreneur?
As far as I know, social entrepreneurs are those people or innovators who are trying to build something new for the development of the society. My Emotions Matter is an organization that is helping people understand themselves better, to improve their social relationships with their parents, children, friends or significant others. With this being introduced in schools, children feel nurtured and cared for. So yes, My Emotions Matter, in this way, is a social enterprise.
14. What are your future plans?
The plan is to keep moving forward. Our mission is to contribute to a self-aware and empathetic world, so we will be looking out for possible collaborations with organizations whose values align with ours.