Hi! My name is Shasank Pokharel. I am an engineering student pursuing my B.E. in Agricultural Engineering at Institute of Engineering, Purwanchal Campus. I was born 20 years ago in the city of Dharan, some 380 Km south-east of Kathmandu and have been living here ever since.
I had a really good upbringing in the peaceful vicinity of Vijayapur, a small hill-top in the eastern part of Dharan decorated with greenery and forests and blessed with some famous temples. I used to read a lot of quiz books and morning news bulletin of Radio Kantipur used to be my morning alarm. It is those two things of my childhood – quiz and news, which shaped my path by providing me with almost googol of information. Having tons of information also meant being somewhat different from my friends and I also could cash-in those information for prizes in weekly phone-in quiz shows in local stations or different competitions in my school. Information is a key to being an entrepreneur and for me it started at an early age.
The serene nature I grew up in also inspired me to be creative. It started in grade 3 when with the help of a cousin I wrote my first poem. He taught me a simple technique – rhyme the last words. “Knowledge is power; it is taller than Eiffel Tower” is what I wrote in the first stanza. That was a rather humble beginning which would achieve new heights when in grade 8, some of my poems started getting published in the weekly ‘Classroom’ section of The Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s best-selling English daily. Poetry was my way of letting emotions ooze out and showing my creativity. Creativity and being different is a must for any successful entrepreneur and for beginners like me rhyming is a way of playing safe until you start thinking like Bob Dylan.
So why do I want to be an entrepreneur? I do not have any concrete answer. I love innovating, researching and thinking out of box and even a moment’s thought of job bores me. Or maybe that comes down in genes as my dad is a successful businessman in his own rights. Or maybe even a quick thought about some of the successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Steve Wozniak excites me. But it is definite that I want to solve existing problems in the society in the most innovative way possible and build an enterprise around that solution. Whatever may be the reason, an entrepreneur is what I want to be!
I was more focused on doing engineering projects and entrepreneurship was just a path I wanted to pursue in the future. But that changed when I participated in the UAE-Nepal Connect 2017 bootcamp where I gained some valuable insights on social entrepreneurship. With a great help from wonderful mentors like Rob, Yunsun, Joanne and Amin, I have devised my own entrepreneurial plans around honey production and beekeeping.
Our project is like an unsolved equation of entrepreneurship and innovation where both values are unknown but is required to solve the equation or successfully conclude the project. I am working with my team of college friends to create what we call a ChannelHive – an ultra-modern beehive which seemingly is easy to look after and requires much less time to harvest honey from the hive saving valuable time of farmers. By adjusting the internal frames, a channel is created inside each cell of hive when the honey has to be harvested, and honey in each cell of the frames flows below to a pipe and through the pipe it flows outside the hive.
Apart from an easy way of harvesting, we are also integrating bit-of electronics to constantly regulate internal temperature of the hive to create uniform internal temperature suitable for the bees. Since honey production is optimum when the internal temperature is maintained at 32°C to 35°C, heating and cooling elements will be used and be operated by a micro-controller which will be updated about temperature by a temperature sensor present inside the hive. Since bees only live in natural condition and leave the hive if they detect anything unnatural, it is a great risk to artificially regulate temperature. But innovators take risks, don’t they?
Our target with this project is develop an ultra-modern ChannelHive, manufacture it and provide it to the farmers at low price (around or little more than widely-used Langstroth Hive). As of now, we are in a very early stage of the project. We have designed a 3-D model of our proposed ChannelHive and have pitched it to an INGO, Helvetas Swiss Incorporation for technical and financial support to build a prototype. Moreover, INNOCO and Helvetas is also helping me and my friend from NYC, Pabitra Majhi to get certified as Biz Development Service Provider and post-certification our team API Solutions gets to be implemented as a social enterprise.
This project, although sounding more like an engineering project has its own socio-economic importance too. At present, Nepal is producing six times less honey than its production capacity and we are still importing in significant amount. Since harvesting honey is a very tedious task, commercial beekeeping has not been widely practiced. Also difficulty in maintaining healthy colony during extreme weather and climatic condition is a big problem. We are working to simplify beekeeping and save valuable resource and time of farmers. The ultimate aim is to see every farmer using our ChannelHive, inspire youths to consider beekeeping as an economically beneficial enterprise and make Nepal at least self-reliant on honey.
Moreover, growth in beekeeping is also a positive sign of good and pollution-free environment, not to mention the fact that bees exist only in pollution and chemical free environment and helps in better pollination of crops. The global scope of this project is all about creating simple and easy-to-harvest hives to motivate people to be a ‘backyard beekeeper’, someone who keeps a hive or two to produce honey for one’s own use. This will not only be beneficial to the beekeeper but also will help repopulate bees for a cleaner, greener and sustainable environment.