“Give a (wo)man a fishing rod”
Nepal — Uniterra
I recently read Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime, and something he said really stuck with me: “People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”
As CECI volunteers our main goal throughout our mandate is to assist in the capacity building of the organizations we work with, in order to ensure that the work we do can and will continue long after our mandates are over. This is to make sure that our work is sustainable and meaningful. And this is something I have been struggling with recently – the idea of just how meaningful my time in Nepal will actually be and whether or not I will be able to provide that ‘fishing rod’.
One of the first things I learned since being here in Nepal is that there is so much unrealized potential in all the amazing work that is being done by the organizations we volunteer for. But this means nothing without the capacity and the funds to allow this potential to be realized. And sometimes even that is not enough to make a difference.
FWEAN is an amazing organization run by women for women with the aim to promote the interests of women entrepreneurs in Nepal. Part of my role as the Documentation and Communications Intern is to develop various marketing materials, and to support women entrepreneurs in marketing their products. One of the ways I have been doing this is with the expansion and maintenance of an e-portal site, winbiz.com.np, where women-made products can be bought and marketed online. This is an incredible initiative that is the first of its kind in Nepal, and was established by my predecessor, a former CECI volunteer. This e-portal is an excellent tool for all of FWEAN’s members as it is a great platform through which they can expand their markets. But while working on this project, I have come to realize that as amazing as this idea is, it is only useful to those women entrepreneurs that have access to the internet and know how to use it, which many, especially those in rural regions, do not. They may know how to fish but they do not have a fishing rod, and obtaining that fishing rod will take time and resources that are beyond the scope and control of FWEAN.
What this experience has taught me so far is that development is slow work. And while I may not be able to effect great change in the time that I am here, I can still do my part to help continue the process. The Winbiz e-portal, while not readily available to all of FWEAN’s entrepreneurs, is proving to be a successful tool for those who are able to access it, and that is one step closer to ensuring that all women entrepreneurs have access to and can benefit from this fishing rod.