‘In Our Hands’, Nepal

Three women sitting on the floor inside a building preparing bamboo for weaving.
Women preparing bamboo for weaving, Pyan Gaun, photographer: Helen Voce

With Nepali partners, Applied Arts Scotland have delivered two editions of the In Our Hands: Towards Creative Green Economy in Nepal programme.

A team of partners and experts in contemporary crafts and design, circular economy, heritage conservation and environmental sustainability from Nepal and the UK, the In Our Hands programme offers all participants the opportunity to articulate their vision for a greener, more equal society by participating in a series of interactive sessions and a multi-disciplinary curriculum prioritising experiential learning.

Funded by the British Council Nepal, Applied Arts Scotland with our Scottish partner Edinburgh Napier University’s (ENU) Creative Informatics, has partnered with Kathmandu University‘s Schools of Arts and Engineering, Nepal Art Village and Storycycle to deliver two editions of In Our Hands.

In Our Hands is part of the British Council’s Road to COP programme, which Applied Arts Scotland with our Scottish partner Edinburgh Napier University participated in previously via the Road to COP26 Innovation Programme.

2023-2024 PROGRAMME

Graphic of weaving with text 'In Our Hands. Towards Creative Green Economy in Nepal.' With logos for the British Council, Edinburgh Napier University, Applied Arts Scotland, Nepal Art Village, Storycycle and the National Innovation Centre

The 2023-2024 programme consists of workshops and guided learning, research time in the field, one-on-one mentoring, prototyping and pitching.

Participants’ journeys on the 2023-2024 programme started with the Craft Toolkit to consider and capture thinking on their business ideas and models which prioritise outcomes for the community and environment. Participants used the Quintuple Bottomline framework (People, Planet, Profit, Purpose, Place) to articulate their business plans and pitched for research grants. Research grantees gathered knowledge on supply chains, material innovation and external contexts that may impact their business outcomes, and pitched at a residential workshop for development grants to pilot their ideas, develop their brand and value proposition, audience and markets. A showcase event in Kathmandu in April 2024 will conclude the programme.

Timeline of activity (from left to right): '11 Aug-10 Sep, open call for participants. 25-30 Sep, orientation and intro sessions. Sep-Nov, explore and evolve - with the Craft Toolkit. 24 Nov, business plans presented to panel for research grant awards. Dec-Jan 2024, research and refine - participants conduct field research, better understand their supply chain and product life cycle. 13-15 Jan, two residential workshops and development grant pitch event in Kathmandu. Jan-Feb, develop and deliver - participants work on their pilots, brand and market entry. Mar-Apr 2024, showcase and other events - development grantees present their outputs.'

Grantees

Five projects were awarded development grants following their pitches at an event in Kathmandu, January 2024. The grants support structured and guided learning delivered through research and business planning exercises to develop prototypes or to pilot ideas.

Himalayan Aromatic Incense

Four black and white portraits with text 'In Our Hands. Towards Green Creative Economy. Himalayan Aromatic Incense. Suraj Silwal Joshi, Sangita Bataju, Kripendra Amatya and Rubina Pradhan. Educator Suraj Silwal Josh, public health worker Sangita Bataju, visual artist Kripendra Amatya, and counseling psychologist Rubina Pradhan form the team of Himalayan Aromatic Incense. Through their diverse expertise, they work collaboratively to find ways to use art to enhance emotional and mental well-being. This project's mission is to rejuvenate age-old traditions of incense making, foster job opportunities, and advocate for sustainable incense within the Manakamana market. They aspire to weave cultural practices with economic sustainability, promoting the artists' economic as well as emotional well-being at the same time.' With British Council, Applied Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Kathmandu University, Nepal Art Village and Storycycle logos.

Educator Suraj Silwal Josh, public health worker Sangita Bataju, visual artist Kripendra Amatya, and counseling psychologist Rubina Pradhan form the team of Himalayan Aromatic Incense. Through their diverse expertise, they work collaboratively to find ways to use art to enhance emotional and mental well-being. This project’s mission is to rejuvenate age-old traditions of incense making, foster job opportunities, and advocate for sustainable incense within the Manakamana market. They aspire to weave cultural practices with economic sustainability, promoting the artists’ economic as well as emotional well-being at the same time.

Jewellery from Each Journey

Black and white portrait of a woman with text 'In Our Hands. Towards Creative Green Economy. Jewellery from Each Journey. Anusha Thapa. Designer Anusha Thapa draws inspiration from her extensive travels and adventurous treks across various regions of Nepal for her work. Under her Jewellery from Each Journey project, Anusha endeavours to explore jewellery-making across Nepal, comprehend the art forms involved and weave narratives around them. The fusion of craft and storytelling serves as a bridge to connect with diverse individuals and communities. The project strongly emphasises the meticulous study of sourced materials and techniques indigenous to each location, embracing ethical production processes and actively minimising the environmental footprint associated with jewellery manufacturing.' With British Council, Applied Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Kathmandu University, Nepal Art Village and Storycycle logos.

Designer Anusha Thapa draws inspiration from her extensive travels and adventurous treks across various regions of Nepal for her work. Under her Jewellery from Each Journey project, Anusha endeavours to explore jewellery-making across Nepal, comprehend the art forms involved and weave narratives around them. The fusion of craft and storytelling serves as a bridge to connect with diverse individuals and communities. The project strongly emphasises the meticulous study of sourced materials and techniques indigenous to each location, embracing ethical production processes and actively minimising the environmental footprint associated with jewellery manufacturing.

KleanitUpcyclers

Two black and white portraits of men with text 'In Our Hands. Towards Creative Green Economy. KleanitUpcyclers. Sashi Kiran Thapa and Milan Bohara. At KleanitUpcyclers, Milan Bohara and Sashi Kiran Thapa challenge the conventional perception of plastic as a problem, recognising it as a valuable resource. As dedicated researchers, they have committed themselves to exploring ingenious solutions to address the plastic waste crisis through cutting-edge technology. The project is firmly rooted in ethical and ecological principles - transforming waste into valuable products. Their mission is not merely to present sustainable living as a choice but to make it an inviting and embraced lifestyle, ensuring a healthier and happier future for generations to come.' With British Council, Applied Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Kathmandu University, Nepal Art Village and Storycycle logos.

At KleanitUpcyclers, Milan Bohara and Sashi Kiran Thapa challenge the conventional
perception of plastic as a problem, recognising it as a valuable resource. As dedicated researchers, they have committed themselves to exploring ingenious solutions to address the plastic waste crisis through cutting-edge technology. The project is firmly rooted in ethical and ecological principles – transforming waste into valuable products. Their mission is not merely to present sustainable living as a choice but to make it an inviting and embraced lifestyle, ensuring a healthier and happier future for generations to come.

Old Souls

Black and white portrait of woman with text 'In Our Hands. Towards Creative Green Economy. Old Souls. Pranidhi Tara Tuladhar. Pranidhi Tara Tuladhar, a versatile designer, redefines fashion with her project Old Souls. Focused on circular fashion and a meaningful lifestyle, she transforms worn textiles into ethno-modern pieces that narrate their past stories. This conscious entrepreneur strives to elevate local tailors and marginalised groups, ensuring a high-end product range transcending generations. With a cultural signature reflecting modern Nepali self-expression, Old Souls seamlessly blends tradition into contemporary design trends, paying homage to roots while creating chic, timeless pieces.' With British Council, Applied Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Kathmandu University, Nepal Art Village and Storycycle logos.

Pranidhi Tara Tuladhar, a versatile designer, redefines fashion with her project Old Souls. Focused on circular fashion and a meaningful lifestyle, she transforms worn textiles into ethno-modern pieces that narrate their past stories. This conscious entrepreneur strives to elevate local tailors and marginalised groups, ensuring a high-end product range transcending generations. With a cultural signature reflecting modern Nepali self-expression, Old Souls seamlessly blends tradition into contemporary design trends, paying homage to roots while creating chic, timeless
pieces.

Sidra

Two black and white portraits of men with text 'In Our Hands. Toward Creative Green Economy. Sidra. Pravesh Panthi and Sharad Raut. Pravesh Panthi, an environmental engineer, and Sharad Raut, a visual artist, are the duo behind "Sidra". Sidra creates fish based food products, and aims to harmonise nature, community, and enterprise. Committed to establishing a community-driven enterprise rooted in indigenous knowledge, they introduce an innovative hybrid aquaponics system. This system ingeniously converts fish waste into a nutrient source for crops, promoting sustainability and empowering locals by utilising available resources and tapping into their inherent skills.' With British Council, Applied Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Kathmandu University, Nepal Art Village and Storycycle logos.

Pravesh Panthi, an environmental engineer, and Sharad Raut, a visual artist, are the
duo behind ‘Sidra’. Sidra creates fish-based food products, and aims to harmonise nature, community, and enterprise. Committed to establishing a community-driven enterprise rooted in indigenous knowledge, they introduce an innovative hybrid aquaponics system. This system ingeniously converts fish waste into a nutrient source for crops, promoting sustainability and empowering locals by utilising available resources and tapping into their inherent skills.

2022-2023 PROGRAMME

Graphic representation of weave in brown, green and red, with text 'In Our Hands, Towards creative green economy in Nepal' with British Council and UK Aid logos

Facilitated by the Nepali and UK experts, the 2022-2023 programme consisted of workshops and guided learning, research time in the field, one-on-one mentoring and pitching.

Timeline of in Our Hands Programme from 18 August 2022 Orientation Webinar to Dec 2022-February 2023 Mentoring Period.
In Our Hands timeline

13 participants choose to pitch at the conclusion of the programme.

Gathering of Nepali individuals, both standing and sitting on the floor, in a courtyard, with a digital screen to the left hand side, featuring UK individuals on Zoom.
Conclusion of In Our Hands pitching event

Grantees

Six projects were awarded grants, selected through a rigorous process by a wide and diverse range of panellists. The grants support product development, prototyping and user testing, with additional one-on-one mentoring.

Project Green Gold

Hemp is the future. We all know about its production benefits but what about the current waste generated by the hemp industry in Nepal? Manisha and John hope to build on the potential hemp bring to sustainable consumption. The duo is working on a new way of incorporating hemp into the market which can introduce finer and better-quality products which appeal to a wider/modern demand. And this too through reclaimed waste from the existing hemp and other clothing industries. They are currently reliant on other workshops to create products, but with the In Our Hands grants, Manisha and John will be able to secure key resources to fulfil their ambitions.

Kattran

Artist and Entrepreneur Priyanka from Nepalgunj hopes to collaborate with communities in her locality and across Tarai to help support women gain economic independence through crafts. She wants to upcycle and reuse the discarded textiles commonly found in every household to create accessories, decoration items and much more. This initiative aims to revive cultural outputs that have been replaced by the introduction of new materials like plastics.

Khoriya ko Kaagaj

Rajiya wants to work with the Chepang community to setup a nature-based, community-run industry that will produce products such as paper from agro wastes. Rajiya’s idea promotes traditional indigenous knowledge and enhances the capacity of the locals to archive and industrialize their skills and local available resources to recycle leftover stalk of Amrisso plant, used to make broom, and contribute towards zero waste as well as circular and creative green economy.

Bhwom

Samriddhi comes from a family who has run a paper factory for more than three decades. She believes she can introduce new materials and help the Lokta production become less dependent on ingredients that are now rarer because of climate change. Lokta paper production employs great many people who are vulnerable to the economic impact of a restrictive supply chain. By employing agro and timber waste she hopes to champion a more sustainable paper production. 

Gitta

Tayama has a vision to create eco-friendly carbon-neutral building materials incorporating cow dung ash. She aims to provide an alternative source of income for Nepali smallholder farmers and an alternate to the existing brick kilns, which contributes to 37% percent of the country’s CO2 emission. Her bricks made up of cow dung ash and limestone are net zero carbon products. 

Wetlands for Nepal

From nuisance to nurturer. As a team of ecologists and engineers, Anu, Nischal and Manoj hope to use nature-based solutions to conserve biodiversity and support wetland restoration while creating benefits for the community through a social enterprise. The team hopes to conserve and promote the fragile ecosystem by managing invasive species of water lettuce that occupy water bodies across the country. Prototyping Jalkumbi growing in Nagdaha into liquid fertiliser and insecticide, the initiative employs local youth to produce agro-resources within a community which relies predominantly on agrarian income. 

Showcase

In Our Hands grantees launched their projects to invited guests on 22 February 2023 and showcased their work to the public on 23 February 2023 in the courtyard of Aksheswar Mahabihar monastery, Lalitpur.

Graphic representation of weave in brown, green and red, with text 'In Our Hands, Towards Creative Green Economy, Exhibition, 23 February 2023, 10am-5pm, Aksheswar Mahabihar, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Project Showcases: Gitta, Khoriya ka Kaagaj, Wetlands for Nepal, Bhwom, Project Green Gold, Kattran' with British Council, UK Aid, Applied Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Napier Universtiy, Kathmandu University, National Innovation Centre, Nepal Art Village logos.
Two people stood next to 2 plinths displaying raw materials, paper and paper products and a bamboo display stand with branding and a screen showing someone holding up handmade paper. All in a monastery courtyard.
Khoriya ko Kaagaj

In Our Hands is delivered by faculty from Kathmandu University, Edinburgh Napier University, experts from Applied Arts Scotland, and Nepal Art Village supported by the National Innovation Centre.

Strip of logos for the British Council, Nepal Art Village, Kathmandu University, National Innovation Centre, Edinburgh Napier University