Promoting preloved items to help mothers in need in Nepal
Posted: 4 March 2021
Australia Awards alumnae Anu Upadhayay and Sita Bantha Magar are the founders of Mom’s Store Nepal, a social enterprise dedicated to reusing, recycling and upcycling used items and raising awareness about sustainable practices.
Mom’s Store Nepal originated when Anu and Sita saw Nepali mothers struggling to clothe their children after being rendered unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19. To support these parents and other low income families, the pair created a Facebook group in October 2020 for mothers all over Nepal to post their used or extra clothes and other items for sale or to give away. Seeing the group’s popularity, Anu and Sita created dedicated Mom’s Store Nepal Facebook and Instagram pages to facilitate the resale of donated goods, ensuring that items are priced so that mothers in need can afford them. The group’s growth has been surprising, because it is not common practice in Nepal to buy used items.
Within four months of the launch of Mom’s Store Nepal, more than 20 individuals had donated more than 200 kilograms of items, including 1000 articles of children’s clothing in wearable condition. From these donations, the Mom’s Store Nepal team has processed and sold or donated more than 800 garments and toys to those who needed them, branding them as ‘preloved’ rather than ‘used’. The funds raised through these sales are re-invested in operations and logistics such as clothing collection, washing and store management.
In addition to direct sales online and at event stalls, Mom’s Store Nepal partners with low-income neighbourhood grocery shops, offering a sales commission to these shops. Mom’s Store Nepal also facilitates sales for mothers who run home-based businesses making handmade products such as fabric face masks, knitted children’s clothes, crochet crafts, scrunchies and felt items, many of which are made from recycled materials. By providing promotions and sales platforms, Mom’s Store Nepal supports income generation activities for women and small business owners.
To run Mom’s Store Nepal, Anu and Sita coordinate and work with seven volunteers across Nepal who develop networks, maintain the website and social media accounts, and interact with donors and recipients. Through webinars and events, the team has also been promoting the importance of sustainable practices such as recycling and upcycling, encouraging people to reduce waste and contribute to a circular economy.
Anu and Sita were in the same Australia Awards cohort and graduated in 2018. Anu earned a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development at the Australian National University, and Sita completed a Master of Agribusiness at the University of Queensland. The duo lead Mom’s Store Nepal as a voluntary initiative in addition to their full-time jobs; Anu works as a Program Coordinator at Digital Broadcast Initiative Equal Access, and Sita is a Micro Enterprise Development Officer at Technical Assistance for Micro-Enterprise Development for Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies / UNDP Nepal.
While in Australia, Anu and Sita visited garage sales and second-hand stores such as Vinnies, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, and these experiences helped inspire Mom’s Store Nepal. The friends took note of the market and systems in place, and Australians’ awareness of sustainable practices.
Implementing similar practices in Nepal has been challenging but rewarding for the pair.
“Through our small initiative, we believe we have been able to offer support to some needy parents, especially mothers who were hit hard by the pandemic,” they say.
Anu and Sita join women around the world who are leading innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are sharing their story as part of Australia Awards – South Asia’s International Women’s Day 2021 series, which acknowledges the achievements of women leaders and progress towards empowering women in our region.