Shortly after graduating college in 2015, Nishchal Banskota took a trip home to Nepal, which had just suffered a devastating earthquake. He wanted to make a business that connected the primary producers of tea with the ultimate consumers, empowering tea growers to solve problems in their lives and communities.
Banskota’s business produces organic tea grown in the foothills of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Nepal Tea controls its own supply chain, from production to packaging and distribution, eliminating the middlemen who take advantage of farmers and increase costs for consumers. Nepal Tea provides its farmers with free housing, subsidized food, and education for their children, along with cows for additional income. Consumers receive high-quality tea at a fair price, along with the knowledge that their purchase directly improves the lives of underprivileged farmers.
Banskota successfully launched his business in 2016 by partnering with the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate. He has since initiated the cow bank program to help farmers gain additional income, started an online store selling tea and gifts, and created a “tea club” in which members receive a box of teas and samples each month. Now he is working on launching a tea tourism project to bring Western consumers to the foothills of Mt. Kanchanjangha to see where local farmers grow the tea.
SCORE mentor Susan Melamud met with Banskota initially and connected him to Vivek Bendre, who had many years of experience in importing. Bendre guided Banskota through the importing process and kept him focused on his goals. Banskota also used SCORE’s projection templates and other resources on the SCORE website.
Banskota says, “Delving into the business right after graduating from college is in itself an interesting and difficult path. I was committed to learning on the go and by making mistakes … However, I soon found myself all over the place trying to do anything and everything to make my business work.”
With help from SCORE, Banksota says, “I was able to overcome the initial overwhelming phase of my business with more motivation and ease.”