Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Rebina's winning essay




Surviving the pandemic – shrewdness and ruthlessness in business
                                                         Rebina Shahi

“Shrewd is a compliment for a business. Shrewdness can be view both positively and negatively. At times, circumstances compel a businessperson to take ruthless decisions with his head more often than with his heart and to be ruthless, if a situation demands of. A business house has to be ruthless in its competition while at the same time doing good for greater society. Sometimes, you have to be ruthless even to yourself to achieve a positive outcome.” Binod Chaudary

The world is going through a difficult situation with the outbreak of the coronavirus which affects everyone in different ways. For businesspeople, it comes with unique challenges. They need to try to sustain their businesses at all costs. This is a time for them to apply all possible techniques. Binod Chaudary, founder of the CG Group of companies and one of Nepal’s most successful businesspeople, claims that businesspeople need to be shrewd and ruthless to succeed. The coronavirus situation has provided an interesting opportunity to test this. The economic crisis has resulted in an employment crisis with some claiming that 3 in 5 jobs were lost in Nepal and others claiming that 2 in 5 jobs lost during the crisis globally may not come back. Who do you think is responsible for these decisions? It is the businesspeople who have to make ruthless decisions to save their companies’ existence, keeping only the most needed employees, often with reduced salaries, At this point, they must be strong and make decisions with their minds without being emotional. Ruthlessness is a behavior requiring having no pity and a strong determination towards their goal regardless of the consequences; in spite of having emotions and a soft heart, they must cross the hard situations using their mind to get the goal. They don’t listen to their heart and that is what leads them to become successful businesspeople. For the survival of business in these times, businesspeople need to be shrewd. Some argue that shrewdness Shrewd is the kind of attitude that is identified by practical hard-headed intelligence or the most calculating individual with a specific goal that leads them to be a successful businessperson.

Binod Chaudhary’s statement sums up what businesspeople need to do to survive today.  Businesspeople must have strategies and shrewdness because to secure the future of their businesses. To Chaudary, to be called a shrewd businessperson is like defining their work and personality as tough one but sharp minded, possibly difficult to understand. Every businessperson wants to be known as strong and successful, so perhaps the word ‘shrewd’ is a compliment for businesspeople to define their work. Let’s take an example: an entrepreneur named Salikram who wants to do business in Nepal selling organic dried apples. In the early days of his business, he earns very well but then he makes a decision which makes his business go down and he is upset about it. Salikram questions himself as to where he went wrong. Suddenly, all the answers pop into his head. His first answer is that, at the beginning there weren’t other businesses but now the market is flooded, meaning that he has more competitors. Secondly, he sells his products both in apple season and in the off-season so customers believe that those apples aren’t fresh. Third, although his apples were organic, his competitors were much more clever in attracting their customers through brands and advertisements. Some tough decisions needed to be made.

Our world works on the basis of innovation. Customers prefer to use branded and appealing products to satisfy their every need but every customer has different needs making it impossible for a business to include all qualities to satisfy everyone. For example, some of Salikram’s customers preferred to have their dried apples with the peel and others preferred them peeled. He calculated all the strong and weak points in his business and discovered that his business could provide apples in all seasons while other companies could not, giving Salikram’s business a strong competitive advantage. He decreased the price in the offseason so that all the customers could get access to the products and taste them and learn that they taste just as fresh. Although this resulted in a reduction in his profits, he was happy because he could then advertise his products when no competitor could, raising brand awareness to the consumers. His shrewd decision resulted in success. In fact to be successful in business, shrewdness is unapologetically necessary – business leaders need to  must have the qualities of a fox to understand how to avoid traps and problematic situations, the qualities of a snake to establish the sting of awareness and the qualities of a of a dolphin to signal harmony and peace to allies and friends. Both shrewdness and ruthlessness work hand in hand. Businesspeople should be able to understand the importance of each.

Shrewdness can be viewed either positively or negatively. In business, it can be viewed positively when a business is successful but it can also be taken negatively, for example by the people who lost their jobs when their bosses made ruthless decisions to survive during this pandemic. Having no choice to save the business from falling and to get past such a critical and tough situation, businesspeople have be shrewd and take a strong stance to lower the costs so that, it can be invested as required in the needed situation. Some may see these decisions as negative and not made with the heart. But they may be necessary.
 
Change is unforeseeable. The coronavirus pandemic is an extreme example of this. A businessperson needs to adapt accordingly. This is the time for a businessperson step forward and try new techniques. For example, before the pandemic, a restaurant named Dhauli’s Café used to offer delicious foods with live music. After the lockdown, the owners needed to change their strategy by using an online platform to deliver food to customers. In this situation, employees such as the music performers, dish cleaners, and waiters lost their jobs. The Nepal government demanded that businesses provide salaries to employees but how can a businessperson pay salaries when the business isn’t running? The boss needed to be ruthless and so employees became unemployed.

In countries like Nepal, there are many opportunities to start businesses as the market develops. In the same way, unstable situations of extreme difficulty can be the gateway to rise for creative entrepreneurs; they have an opportunity to use their shrewd minds to learn and grow from the challenges and survive and succeed in business. In spite of all the opportunities, many entrepreneurs are unable to succeed when they fail to understand that they are always serving someone like their business, shareholders and customers. When they lose sight of their goal and let emotions get in the way, for example, when an entrepreneur mixes their business with their personal life, then, using Chaudary’s advice, they will be unable to reach their goal. There are many of these kinds of cases where businesspeople failed during their struggling phase due to a lack of ruthlessness in entrepreneurs in Nepal.

To start a business, an individual gives their sweat and blood but some fail to understand that it is also necessary to be at least a bit ruthless in business. Being human, everyone has emotions and before setting a goal, one must be ready to face hard situations with the capabilities to control emotions when needed. In most cases, especially in a culture like Nepal, an entrepreneur starts his business with the help of family, friends, and siblings, and often if they don’t do their job properly, the bosses tend to keep quiet. They don’t want to upset their relatives or friends by making them feel like they are not doing their job properly. By doing this, indirectly the boss doesn’t give those people the chance to improve their work but instead melts with the emotions which will impact the business’s success.

Businesspeople don’t succeed only because of hard work and dedication, although these are also necessary. Chaudary believes that their ability to make shrewd and ruthless decisions will also play a role, that these are positive attributes for a businessperson. Even if the situation brings barriers in relationships, one must be strong to use their cleverness in the hard air. In the case of Salikram’s apple business, if he hadn’t dared to lower the price of his product for a certain time for the sake of his business, he would have been in a loss and his business would have failed. He achieved profit because he was ruthless and dared to face challenges. Sometimes, being ruthless involves taking risks. When the problems faced by a business are analysed carefully and the tough decisions are made, there will be more successful businesses which can help clear the unemployment and the brain-drain and other problems which are affecting Nepal’s development. In the world, due to the pandemic disease, there has been a huge economic crisis, and many businesses won’t survive as they have been stopped from running while people have been shut in their homes, but at the same time online businesses like Amazon, E-sewa and many more are taking over other businesses by giving their services to customers in creative ways to take the advantage of the current situation. These businesspeople are adapting and using their heads to make challenging decisions to survive and contribute to the success of the new world.

To sum up, to be a successful businessperson needs to sometimes be harsh to make decisions and have the quality of shrewdness. In every situation, they need to stay alert and keep updated about everything that is happening in the market and adapt as needed. They need to understand consumers’ needs and demands and work accordingly, even when these needs change unexpectedly. Ruthlessness and shrewdness are essential skills for businesspeople to succeed. Binod Chaudary, Nepal’s only businessman on Forbe’s list of billionaires, understands these skills. His advice seems even more important to understand and appreciate during these times of pandemic.

Monday, June 8, 2020

I am my own role model, by Ashmita

We have been challenging our students during this lockdown to express how they are feeling, their coping strategies and to share ideas with each other. They have been writing essays and poems, drawing pictures, dancing and various other ways of working through their emotions. 

Recently, Ashmita, one of our class 12 students, who is eagerly waiting to find out when the postponed class 12 board exams will be held, penned this powerful piece on why she is her own role model. We thought you might enjoy it. 

Hope everyone is staying safe. 

With gratitude
Bec  



I am my own role model

By Ashmita Hingmang, class 12, June 2020



In my opinion, a role model is someone who has a clear sense of what is important to them, someone with the mindset of learning from their mistakes and turning them into opportunities, someone who lets go of things that are holding them back. I would consider myself to be my own source of inspiration because I know what I have been through and what I can improve as a result. I know that no matter how deep in a hole I fall into, I will find my way out regardless of how long it takes. I am the one who has her life in her own control.



The reason why I say l am my own role model is because no one can help me to get where I want to go but me. I inspire myself to do better and to be better in everything that I do. I learn from my mistakes. My life path and my goals are different from anyone else’s so why would I follow in someone else’s footsteps? My path to success is going to be different. I realised that following someone else might lead to failure because it isn’t my path. Now I believe that we should lead our own way and inspire ourselves to achieve our goals. It is easier to be my own role model, because if I trip up, I don’t have to wait for others to give me advice. I will discover the way forward by trying new things, exploring new things towards my goal. If in that process, I make mistakes, so be it. Life has offered me a learning opportunity. As writer Israelmore Ayivor said: ”The first person you have to conquer is you.” I am not full of myself. I am just a girl who knows exactly what to expect of herself without the assistances of others. I believe everyone is different and that is the beauty of the world. Everyone goes through different experiences which create the person they become in life. No two experiences are the same; therefore, no two people can be the same. We all have room for self-improvement.  



I am my own role model because I know I can be my best self. I was there when I needed to get myself up. When people were not there for me, I used myself as an inspiration to get back up. I want all people to know that even thought people are not always there for us, we can do it no matter what people tell us. Be your own role model. Be your own inspiration.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Opportunity Box - Hiking to Bethanchowk

Recently, a group of 7 of our team and students headed to Narayanthan, Bethanchowk, for a hiking escape from Kathmandu. As part of the experience, they were each asked to complete 2 writing activities.

Here are 10 lessons Sarita, our Special Projects Leader, learned from the trip.


Bethanchwok Hike (Narayanthan)

Ten things learnt

  1. The foremost thing I learnt about was my fear because the place we went to and the people there were new to me and I am not good in coping with new places and with new people unless there’s someone with me. Also, the other reason I was nervous was because we also had our students (kids) and we needed to make sure they were all well and doing good. 
  2. The name of the temple we went to is Narayanthan and we were told few of the legends about the temple. According to the name of the temple we thought that the temple was of Lord Vishnu but the temple at the destination happened to be of Lord Shiva which was totally different from what we had expected and imagined. 
  3. I also got to learn about our kids’ nature i.e. I got to learn how loving, caring and helpful our boys are (Sudip and Sushil). I don’t know how they will be when they grow up but they succeeded in making me imagine them growing into wonderful men also, because of them I was able to push away my negative thoughts on men. It was also surprising to see how fun loving our girls are, I hadn’t seen the fun-loving side of them, but I am glad I got to see and their dedication to reach the destination anyhow. 
  4. I thought there’s nothing that special about the special but then I realized I was wrong because even though people have to walk for hours they go there it could either be religious or fun purpose but people do go there because the place has secret specialty such as fresh and nice air up there, the clouds or the temple that makes people to forget about their stresses and chaotic life. 
  5. Seeing our kids’ skill to take photos amazed me because they knew how to take photos from different angle making sure the beauty of nature and the person posing for photo is captured properly. 
  6. Kaley the dog who hiked with us was attacked by two of the dogs while we were climbing down the hill because while we stopped at one of the places he had barked at one of them who later teamed up with another and came to attack him. So, this made me realize teamwork doesn’t only get implemented in human life but also animals do. Realizing this I was happy but seeing Kaley being attacked, wasn’t a good incident for any of us. 
  7. Seeing the moon rise was a first time for all the seven of us which was amazing. The moon came out from behind the hills slowly was a very beautiful moment. 
  8. While we were coming to Panauti from Dhungkharka by bus there was an old man who kept on offering his seat to old people and women who was carrying either child or heavy stuffs so, he helped me realize there are people with kind heart whom we often ignore. 
  9. Before we went on hike we had met one of the staff from the retreat center we were planning to stay the night and he had told us it would only take us 45 minutes to reach the retreat center but it took us almost 2 hours. So, it was frustrating but made me to think of how the others feel if we tell them the wrong time to reach certain places like we were told. We also spoke about one of the incidents about our friends who took the guests on hike and telling them they would be reaching the destination in one hour but took more than the mentioned time. So, we should not mention the wrong time is the lesson I learnt from it. 
  10. The hotels in Dhungkharka are affordable such as the prices they charge for local tea, vegetarian food and other food items are quite cheap and it was unexpected. I am not sure about others, but it did give me a reason to go back to the same place because it is affordable and worth visiting. 
Three things I will do differently 
1. Make sure to wear proper shoes while hiking depending on the place I am hiking to. 
2. Make sure to either take the power bank to charge my phone or to keep my phone close to me so that the battery will stay warm and doesn’t die then, I will not only be able to take photos but also be able to be in contact everyone I am supposed to. 
3. Make sure to keep the record of the expenses properly.








Friday, February 22, 2019

Our blog is back - Jyoti and Rojina share their passion for dance

After a few years of publishing and sharing the creative musings of the students in different forums, we have decided to reinvigorate the Dream Speakers blog! 

We plan to regularly post ideas, essays, poems, stories, conversations, artwork and other creative outpourings from our passionate students with you. 

To begin with, here's a conversation with Jyoti  (aged 16) and Rojina (aged 10) about their passion for dance and how dancing makes them feel. 



Jyoti

 
1. What type of dance do you do?

I do free style dance class but really I love b-boying. 

2. Why do you love dancing?


I love it because I think that dance is a gift that brings people together with creativity and music and also it is good exercise.


3. How do I feel when I dance?

I feel that it reduces isolation, reduces stress and feel happy and I enjoy it a lot.

4. How does dance help me in my life?
It helps me to explore different ways to make a shape learning a series of steps in music and also it is the way of moving the body as an instrument of expression and communication.




Rojina


1. What type of dance do you do?
I am doing Nepali and free style dance classes.  


2. Why do you love dancing?
I love to dance because it makes me happy and excited to learn.


3. How do I feel when I dance?
I feel that I can be a good and talented dancer in the world.

4. How does dance help me in my life?
I feel that I can show my good dance and win a trophy for my family. It makes people happy when I dance.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Do we need an International Men's Day too?

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we the students of Mitrataa Foundation, gathered together to celebrate this topic. Bec led the meeting with many interesting ideas on the topic of which we were not aware.
Do we need International Women's Day?


We discussed on major questions like; why should we have International Women’s Day? Is it necessary to have International Men’s Day? And other similar questions under the topic. We came to know the theme for this year is ”Make It Happen” which means if we’re planning to do something for women ,then let’s not just make a plan, let’s make it happen.

In order to get ideas on how we involve men in discussing women rights issues we were divided into 4 groups of 4 members in each group. At the end, each group came up with different ideas to involve boys, realising that if we don’t involve them in these conversations, we will not address all of the problems facing women and girls today.

We decided to vote one idea among different ideas collected by our groups and make that our ”Make it Happen” project. Through the votes we chose to run a workshop where we will each invite 2 boys or men we know (friends, brothers, fathers, uncles, teachers, tutors). We’ll show videos, play games, share experiences with the participants. Our goal is to get active participation of male participants so that they understand and experience the importance of empowering women and the power of all of us working together. We have set one committee to run this workshop, which will be run by June.


We finished the meeting by writing a letter to an important male in our lives – friends, boyfriends, brothers, teachers etc. We wanted to focus on the fact that there are good men out there too and we should not always focus on the bad ones.


It was a fun plus knowledgeable meeting. We came to know more about equality, rights and even about development. Many things were not familiar to us and we were doing many things in the name of women empowerment blindly without even knowing what actually it means. The most interesting question that’s still in my head is “If we talk about equality, why we don’t we celebrate International Men’s Day?”


Sabitri Pathak
Class 11, A Levels 
Presenting ideas for how to involve boys and men in the conversations on issues of importance to women






Writing letters to the positive male role models in our lives

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anita's views on the dangers of drugs in Nepal

Anita Budhatoki is one of our class 10 students this year. I asked her to write about a topic which she felt passionate about. Below she shares her views on the problems of drugs with youth today.

People of our society are of different kinds and their attitudes are also different. Some people are greedy, some are nervous, some are in tension and some are even involved in drugs. I think drugs are not good in everything. Drugs are substances which make our body weak and even it can harm our nervous system. Drugs are also illegal in our country. People take drugs in different ways. Some take drugs to relax themselves and to be free from tension. Drugs are also one kind of medicine which fight against diseases.

This problem can be seen in the whole world, not just in Nepal. Mostly we can see that the youth of today are taking drugs. Drugs like: smoking, tobacco, injection, cocaine, heroin etc are some of the examples of harmful drugs. Youth of today are taking drugs as fashion also. We can see the youth of today are involved in drugs so they are more involved in social crime. People get involved into drugs due to peer influence. Drug abuse has been one of the social problems in our country. Many people take drugs due to following reasons:                                                                                                               
1.    Tension and stress
2.    Poverty
3.    Lack of care of parents and teachers etc
4.    To imitate others
People can suffer a lot after taking drugs. They may have the health problems and have to waste a lot of money. The families of people who take drugs often lose their prestige in society. If the youth of today are involved in drugs then who are the nation developers? If youth of today are involved in such crimes then we cannot imagine our country with peace. The world is not afraid of violence of bad people but afraid of the people who don’t speak against violence of bad people. So to control drug abuse we should stop them from taking drugs. Following things can be done to control drug abuse in our society as well as in the country:
1) Giving proper counselling to youth about the dangers of drugs.                                       
2) Establishing rehabilitation centres.
3) Involving youth in creative works, sports, volunteers etc. 
4)Avoiding company of bad friends.
5)    Conducting awareness programs related to drugs for all youth.
If today’s youth are good then coming youth will be better. So, not only students but parents should also look and care after their children. Not only in home but in everywhere they support and encourage their children in good things. Students and youth of today should not copy the bad attitudes of their friends but instead they should copy good behaviour and should have feeling of national pride. So in my view we should say no to drugs and say yes to a happy and healthy life.                                       

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Paying it Forward – Our SLC graduates spend time with children at Kathmandu Model Hospital


Princess slippers for a princess
Gratitude and generosity are very important values which we strive to instil in the children we work with in Nepal. In celebration of finishing their SLC exams, we encouraged our SLC graduates to find a hospital where there were children in need of a smile and to spend some time with them, making them laugh and feel special.


A quilt full of love for a fast recovery
Sarika took the lead in organising the visit. She contacted Dr Shanker Rai from Kathmandu Model Hospital who does wonderful work with his team in operating on children with the need for cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries. With the help of the manager of the hospital, Dr.Hemantadhwaj Joshi, the date was set for their visit.

Thanks to Sarika, Sarita and Sabitri for their energy and passion in doing this. I hope we can continue to work with Dr Rai’s team to bring smiles to the faces of children around the time of their surgeries to remind them that people care about them. And thanks to St Catherine's for the handmade quilts which the girls gave to the children and to Seow Yuin of the COMO Foundation for the hand

Bubbles can fix almost anything!

In Sarika and Sarita’s words:
What was the purpose of your visit?
Sarika: “To bring smiles on the face of children and celebration of finishing the SLC exams.”
What happened on your visit?

Sarita: “In hospital we distributed clothes, toys and some books and puzzles to children who had just had surgery. After distributing, we also played with the kids. They were happy to wear new clothes as well as to get toys and to blow bubbles!
Sarika gives a doll

How did you feel on your visit?

Sarika: “It made us feel happy. This is our first time we distribute clothes to the kids. It encouraged us to do social service to the kids. And we are happy to get such opportunity to distribute the clothes to those kids in hospital. And we feel happy to have finished our SLC.”


Handpainted t-shirt for a princess in waiting