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community support for women in Kathmandu (CW)

Location: Nepal
Project type: community support
Price from: £3,008 - details below

Share your skills by helping to support a social business organisation which is working towards strengthening the livelihoods of financially deprived women home-based workers in Nepal.

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follows:
  • community workers
  • small business skills
  • mentoring
  • film and digital story telling
  • marketing and advertising
  • design of promotional materials
  • product designers
  • financial management
  • IT and literacy skills
  • nursery school support
  • teacher trainers (nursery level)

Main project details

Sabah Nepal is a social business enterprise working to empower women in regions across Nepal.  Their aims are:

  • to provide a platform for home-based workers to own, manage, operate and market skills and products, enabling collective marketing
  • to develop the knowledge and skills of home-based workers to enable the production of high quality marketable goods and services
  • to optimally utilise available natural resources and indigenous skills for conversion into innovative products
  • to streamline the supply chain
  • to build a model for women's empowerment by enabling them to become self-reliant through sustainable livelihood

Sabah Nepal has a strong network of more than 2500 women registered with the organisation.  The women pay a nominal annual fee and are then owners and managers of this community-owned organisation.  Sabah works in 14 different districts of Nepal and has 8 community bases.

Members of Sabah work in the areas of food, textiles and crafts.  They already have many traditional skills in manufacturing these products, and Sabah provides the training and organisation required to enable them to produce these goods at the quality and consistency required for the sales market, and to find outlets to sell them.  They have also set up a very effective supply chain for food ingredients, leading from the field to the restaurant, meaning that all ingredients are produced locally and there are no costs in buying from outside the community.  Sabah currently has 3 cafes and 6 retail outlets across the region.

Read more about how the skills share programme works with Sabah Nepal here


Across Nepal, more than 2.2 million women are working at home in various ways in an attempt to make a little cash to enhance the family's income.  By registering with Sabah, this work is legally recognised, and a range of training opportunities are provided to enhance their skills, both in the technical production of these goods and in wider areas such as leadership development.  As the production teams are organised in community groups, the women have a safe and secure environment in which to work.  Product design is tailored to develop traditional designs, recipes etc to suit market needs, and quality control procedures are implemented at all stages.  All the goods produced are based on locally available materials.  The organisation is entirely self-supporting.

The skills share programme will initially support the community base at Khokana, a semi-rural suburb of Kathmandu.  220 women work here, in the areas of weaving, stitching, knitting, embroidery, straw weaving and food.  Khokana is also part of the supply chain, growing foods required for the menus in the cafes.  There is a cafe in Khokana, producing traditional Newari recipes from ingredients grown in the women's gardens, and even supplying yomarees (a delicious local dessert) to supermarkets across Kathmandu.  There is a weaving room where goods are produced to order and some tourist groups participate in 'weaving your own souvenir'.  There is a large communal room with sewing machines and space for manufacturing large orders.  Many women come here to use the equipment and to work together; others come to collect samples and take the work home.  There is also a childcare centre providing care for children aged 1 to 3.  This creche facility enables the women to work uninterrupted and is very popular.  

In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake the Sabah centre became the base for various recovery, health and training programmes.  The centre is used for regular visits by medical teams and has become the base for improving women's knowledge and awareness generally as well as a means of providing income-generating strategies to improve their economic standing.  Sabah's aim is to use the 'window of opportunity' created by the disaster to not only help women use their available assets and skills to return to pre-disaster levels, but to help them strengthen livelihood strategies and income-generating opportunities and in this way to make them more resilient to future disasters.

Whether you have skills in community work, business or education, are retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your skills and experience with local staff in this community development project. Other skills and experience will be welcomed too - take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. 

Minimum duration

4 weeks minimum

Living Conditions

Accommodation will be in The Yellow House, a small locally run hotel in a quiet location in the Patan area of Kathmandu (or in similar accommodation).  Patan is a lively area of Kathmandu, with plenty of shops and restaurants and plenty to do - it is a popular area for the ex-pat community to live and work.  The hotel is  about 15 minutes from the historic Patan Durbar Square, which is a World Heritage Site.  The hotel provides bed and breakfast accommodation, and has a restaurant in the grounds.  It is the site for the popular local Sunday market.

Staying in this area necessitates a drive of about 30 minutes by car to the project site in Khokana at the beginning and end of each working day.  Eventually we hope to be able to offer accommodation options closer to the project, including home-stay.  However Khokana suffered a lot of damage during the 2015 earthquake and many buildings are still in ruins, so people living there currently do not have the facilities to host guests.

Project costs

£,3007.74 for 4 weeks based on bed and breakfast accommodation at The Yellow House in Patan 
Read about our costs and pricing policy here

Watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson
Sterling price based on dollar exchange rate of 1.25
Additional weeks  are costed at a sliding reducing rate.
Please note these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking due to changes in internal costs and taxes outside our control.
Included: Bed and breakfast accommodation at the Yellow House, airport transfers in Kathmandu, full local orientation, city tour, language course, weekend hike, welcome and farewell dinners, local SIM card, project & placement liaison
Your project contribution will be used for the purchase of essential equipment for the project.
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks
$2552 direct costs in Nepal (transfers, accommodation, orientation, information packs, liaison & supervision)
$300 - local partner fee for project management, liaison and supervision in Nepal
$187.50 - project contribution in Nepal
£260 - matching preparation & project development in UK
Not included: International flights, insurance, visa costs, personal expenses such as phone calls, medical expenses, sightseeing  
If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project CLICK HERE

Recommended reading

Rough Guide Nepal

Insight Guide Nepal

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