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Re-Building Nepal

The Dolma Foundation invests in education and health for marginalised children in Nepal. The April 2015 earthquake means that the Foundation is also actively rebuilding remote, mountainous villages along the border with Tibet where almost the entire population has been made homeless due to the destruction. Thinkers50 is delighted to support the Dolma Foundation. Here’s why.

Early in his career, Tim Gocher followed a tried and tested route. He worked for Deloitte and JP Morgan before doing an MBA at London Business School. From there he became managing director of investment bank Interregnum PLC and was co-founder and a partner of a New York-based venture capital firm, Academy IP, which partnered with some of the country’s leading research universities.

And then, in 2003, Tim Gocher visited Nepal and his life changed. He was stranded in the remote village of Bridim by the monsoon rains. The people of Bridim (population 150) made him welcome. He was overwhelmed by the simplicity of their lives and their generosity. There he met a nine-year old girl called Dolma and her family. The result was the non-profit Dolma Foundation. Its aim is to alleviate poverty by investing in sustainable businesses and education in Nepal.

Dolma herself is a beneficiary. She was the first child to receive a full scholarship from the fund.

Thanks to the Dolma Foundation more than 150 children now receive sponsored education or care. The fund is also building health clinics and rebuilding quake-ravaged villages.

The fund also works in a partnership with Tsering Lama, a local mountain guide, in Dolma Ecotourism. “What we do as a charity is work with a community to implement a model where we generate revenue streams for that community. In this case it’s ecotourism,” Tim Gocher explains. “Any profit goes into an education fund which sponsors the children to get an education from that community and then we also raise money to make sure there are health centres and things like that. It’s a community model; not one-way charity. It gives the community a sense that they’re earning their own progress and I think that’s very good.”

All of these endeavours were brought to an abrupt and tragic halt by the devastating earthquake which hit the country in April and May.

Now, the Dolma Foundation is intent on picking up the pieces and contributing to the re-birth of the country. The challenges are enormous. There have also been many unintended consequences to the flood of international aid to the region. Some local businesses have closed — who needs a local food store when there are agencies offering free food? Who needs to run a cafe when you can earn more working with an international aid organization? The understandable rush to re-develop also runs the risk of losing some of the country’s uniqueness. It is easier to build a block of concrete houses from a template than to tailor them to local architectural styles and tastes.

“Re-building Nepal will take time, resources, ingenuity and ideas,” says Tim Gocher. “We are pleased to be supported by Thinkers50 as we hope it will help us access some of the world’s leading business thinkers to maximize the impact of our efforts.”

Thinkers50 will be supporting the Dolma Foundation at Thinkers50 2015. Support the Foundation directly at www.dolmafoundation.org.

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