We have two entities -
'Sarangi Food.Music.Life' and 'Sarangi Social Enterprises'
100% of the profits from both entities is committed to expanding our enterprises so that we can create further training and employment opportunities. 'Sarangi Social Enterprises' is registered with the Social Welfare Council.
Sarangi Social Enterprise Inc is registered with the ACNC
(Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission) as a PBI
(Public Benevolent Institution). Our sole purpose is to alleviate poverty.
We are also a DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) which means that officially,
donations to our charity over $2 can be claimed as a taxable expense.
We do however, prefer loans to donations.
We believe that working parents create positive role models for their children. They are able to pay for nutritious food, healthcare and housing and most importantly, they are able to send their children to school, which interrupts the cycle of poverty. We therefore focus our attention on skills development and creating employment opportunities.
A handful of passionate investors have enabled our projects to exist through some very difficult early days which included a major earthquake and a fuel blockade. We operate as a true ‘Social Business’ ie all investment money has been provided interest free and with very generous repayment terms. All profits go to empower marginalised communities, generally surviving on less than US$2 per day.
Sarangi Social Enterprises has set the following objectives over the next three years.
- Create new employment opportunities for at least100 people in marginalised communities.
- Achieve cash flow break-even by the end of 2019.
- Produce a positive return on investment for the restaurant and chef clothing enterprise by the end of 2019 and is doing so, facilitate community investment opportunities.
- Pay back all investments within a 5 year period.
Sarangi Social Enterprise started it’s first project in May 2014 when a group of committed local musicians from the Gandharba ‘musician caste’ of Nepal befriended Sandra Fiedeldy, an Australian, who had come to Nepal to research their caste for a documentary she was making with filmmaker David Brown.
“We are an ancient caste of musicians. Music is our life. Our craft of making sarangi, playing, singing and dancing is passed on from generation to generation. We live in small communities all over Nepal and come to Thamel to sell our instruments and entertain the tourists. In the past, we went from village to village earning our living from our music and were known not only as entertainers, but as the messengers of Nepal, spreading the news.
We were not allowed to go to school until the 1970’s and continue to confront prejudice as we are still considered unclean and ‘untouchable.
These days, we are fighting to keep our culture alive, as mass communications threaten our livelihood.” Kedar Gandhari
Kedar, Amrit, Pujan and Suresh had a dream to uplift their community, one of the poorest in Nepal, and a restaurant seemed to be the perfect vehicle. A way to reinvent themselves as they moved into the 21st Century. They believed that community development is best achieved through an ethical business model rather than through donations ... and Sandra was looking for an opportunity to make a difference, so it was a perfect match.
Unlike Australia, the social enterprise model was new to Nepal and created some interesting challenges as far as legal structure went. After much deliberation, they decided that ‘Sarangi Food.Music.Life.’ would be registered as a regular profit making company with an internal agreement between the shareholders not to distribute the profits. This would strengthen the integrity of the project and ensure that the profits would be spent on its real purpose, community development.
A Rocky Start
The Sarangi project was fraught with difficulties during the early years. These included the 2015 earthquakes which saw virtually all the tourists disappear overnight, as whole communities were devastated and county was brought to its knees. A 6 month fuel blockade followed. Commodity prices skyrocketed and post earthquake reconstruction came to a standstill. The passing of Nepal’s first democratic constitution followed and in it’s wake, regular bandas (general strikes) that stalled the economy and in certain areas created violent demonstrations. At the same time, migration to Kathmandu from the village areas, where employment opportunities were very limited, was creating noticeable impacts on the city. Reduced air quality caused by increased trafffic congestion and rebuilding, was making Kathmandu less attractive to tourists, Sarangi’s target group. The situation was exacerbated by ‘load shedding’ ... years of limited electricity supply, which at times was only four hours per day. If that weren’t bad enough, a tourist industry with very few controls, leading to an excessive number of restaurants and hotels opening in Thamel, made attracting guests to Sarangi very difficult.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
You would think that the sensible thing to do was give up. But finally, there seemed some hope with some committed politicians creating breakthroughs, particularly in the energy sector. Almost over night, Kathmandu was receiving 24 hour electricity. And finally, the message was getting through to tourists that a community restaurant in Thamel with great food and an even better social cause, was worth a try. Being rated consistently within the top ten restaurants in Kathmandu on TripAdvisor two years running certainly helped.
Sometimes difficult experiences create unexpected opportunities and Sarangi Veg’s response to the challenges was a classic example. Rather that give up, they decided to start a chef wear enterprise. They had after all, not been able to find good quality chef clothing for their staff. At the same time the potential for overseas markets was very promising, especially in Australia where the government gives very generous tax concessions to charities. Starting ‘Sarangi Social Enterprise’ in Nepal as a ‘Profit Not Distributing’ company was the perfect solution to their financial challenges. They also registered with the Social Welfare Council of Nepal which would allow them to work with local NGO's.
Very quickly they gained Hyatt Regency Hotel, one of the most prestigious hotels in Nepal as their first corporate customer and have been growing ever since.
Creating a Charity in Australia
It didn’t take long for them to realise that making a profit in Nepal would not be easy and that finding overseas markets for the products made in Nepal would be the most powerful way to create the income stream that they needed to grow our social enterprises in Nepal.
On the 26 Feb 2017 Sarangi Social Enterprise was incorporated as an association in Australia, and so began the long process of becoming a registered charity. After researching the requirements themselves, they were very proud to be registered by the ACNC as a charity, within the subtype ‘Advancing Social or Public Welfare’ on the 16th Feb 2018.
Adding the subtype PBI (Public Benevolent Institution ) was the next big goal as it would give them endorsement as a DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) with the ATO (Australian Tax Office). After five months of partnership building in Nepal they were finally approved on the 23rd May 2018. It was a day for celebration, as this opened the doors to powerful partnerships in Australia and would make it much easier to sell their Nepali made social enterprise products in Australia.
The journey Continues ... watch this space!