Menuka Gurung, a fellow at Women LEAD for the Social Entrepreneurship project, is an alumna from the 2011 Leadership Institute. She has been working on her Social Entrepreneurship program since the end of the Institute. She is also a school leader at The NAMSS School with Sharmila Dhungana, another alumna from the same year.
Rajina, a Women LEAD intern and Leadership Institute 2010 alumna, talked to her about her experience.
Q. What changes do you feel in yourself after the summer institute?
A: I became a more confident leader after the training. I can interact better with people now. I am more mature and have developed professional skills. I now know how things in the professional world work. Self motivation has become a huge part of my life, now that I have learned how much my own willpower matters.
Q. Among 33 prospective participants, you were selected as one of the three fellows. How do you do feel about this?
I feel privileged actually. In the start, a little too privileged. However later I realized it meant a lot of extra work. Along with the authority, I have a lot of responsibilities, which is quite hard, I admit. But I get to communicate with so many kinds of people, which makes me feel fortunate.
Q. What are your future plans? Has it changed in any way after the training?
Earlier, I was a little too money minded. I wanted to become an Chartered Accountant and get into banking, sit in an office and earn a lot of money; which sounded cool. But now, I believe I want something that will also give me a lot of exposure to society. I want to be involved in social work too, which will be for the benefit of women in society. Of course, money is still important, but I wish to prioritize other things as well.
Q. Why did you choose Social entrepreneurship out of the available three programs to choose from?
Because I felt both Internship and school leadership were too guided. They included following a certain guideline or person. On the other hand, Social entrepreneurship meant having my own ideas, my own approach and making my own decisions. For the kind of person I am, this seemed to be the better fit.
Q. Tell us something about your current project.
A: Initially, we planned on having two projects in two groups. But the lack of ideas in one and manpower in the other led us to merge it into one group. Currently, we are working on the issue of reducing the use of plastic bags by using paper ones instead. We’ve also using our creativity by making greeting cards and paper frames using recycled paper. Right now, we are working on producing paper photo frames by Feb 18th that will help us create a basic budget and practice market promotion. After that date, we plan on finding a market, collecting orders, organizing the manpower and moving on to production. The project should be in full swing in the near future.
Q: What was the best part of being a fellow and the leader for the project?
The best part was actually that I had authority, which honestly, I enjoyed a little. And with the proper use of my authority, I had ideas popping out easily!
Q. What have you learned till now as a part of the project that you believe will be useful for you in your career?
I have become more outspoken now. Now, I don’t feel shy going around asking people for help or for research. I know how market research works, how to deal with people and learn the price factor; how the product gets priced according to the resources used, which I know will be extremely useful for me later.
Q. Do you think your project will be sustainable? How long do you plan to run it for?
Yes of course! I will try my best, at least. And the project, I believe will run at least for an year without any issues. We are working on ideas that will make the project more sustainable.
Q. What problems do you face while trying to run the project smoothly?
Right now, as we are in the starting phase, I think the timing is getting a little difficult. With regular exams and board examinations nearing, studies come in between of course. Also, parents still don’t understand why people of our age need to get engaged in projects like this. The funny thing is, when I am shaping the photo frames, one part of my mind keeps telling me I have to prepare for the pre-board examinations!