Many people choose homestays for their ability, if only for a short while, to embed you as a traveller in the local lifestyle. But what if you could become part of an entire community, and what if in turn, that entire community could be uplifted by you and the many other travellers that visit them in the year. This is what Community Homestay, in part, seeks to do. A platform for primarily women-operated community-based homestays in Nepal focusing on women empowerment, cultural immersion and community uplift in remote areas.
We spoke to Shiva Dhakal and Sudeep Singh to understand the full impact of Community Homestay Network and the facets of what this startup does. Read on to see what they said.
WHAT TRIGGERED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
In an underdeveloped country like Nepal, the tourism industry is one of the significant pillars of the country's economy. Eight out of ten highest mountains, the world's best exotic trekking routes, and the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Nepal certainly is a bucket list destination for millions of travellers from all around the world. However, as trekking destinations are getting the spotlight from world tourism, the ancient culture, tradition and hospitality of Nepali communities remain in the shadow.
So, to put the Nepalese culture and people on the map of world tourism, a few years ago we recommended that some guests visit and stay at Panauti with locals. After returning, we received a series of compliments and appreciation from guests who said after trekking in the mountains, living with a host family is the next best thing they did in Nepal. Then and there, we decided to put our heart and soul to develop the community homestay, which benefits the travellers who are supporters of responsible tourism and in search of an authentic experience of the country, and it also benefits local families, local economy, financially and morally.
WHAT DOES YOUR STARTUP DO?
Community Homestay offers travellers the opportunity to live like a local in Nepal. It represents a promise to experience what we think is the core essence of travelling to a new destination the combination of not only seeing a new landscapes, but connecting with locals on a deeper level.
Without a doubt, Nepal has some of the best trekking routes in the world. But the heart and soul of this country are secretly locked inside the smile of the people, the hospitality, its culture, and tradition.
The Homestay program is designed to share the details of Nepalese culture with our visitors. It is a typical family ritual in Nepal to welcome and treat guests as an incarnation of the God, and our Homestay families follow the similar belief. In Community Homestay, guests will live and dine with a host family, but as our name suggests, they will be sharing most of their experience with an entire community. Guest can explore the town and its historical monuments with their host family and to live, more, like the locals, they can participate in the daily activities of the community. For instance, farming with locals, milking a cow, learning to play local instruments, cooking with families, and, if available, guests can participate in the local festivals.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT OF YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE ON THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?
As one of the biggest industries in the world, the travel industry accounts for 30% of the world's trade of services, and 6% of overall exports of goods and services, yet, the tourism industry is criticized for being one of the main sources of environmental pollution, corruption of local culture and tradition and making rich hoteliers even richer.
CommunityHomestay.com, on the other hand, acts as a haven for the tourism industry; a project which solves social issues, benefits the local economy, and in the end, it protects culture, tradition, and environment.
Our business model is focused on sustainability and empowerment. CommunityHomestay.Com is working to bring positive shifts in the rural communities of Nepal through tourism. The core focus of each of our projects are protection of the culture, the environment, and the local traditions. In addition, we’re one of the driving companies to advocate, and work for gender equality in Nepal.
We encourage the owners of Homestays, and individuals responsible for the management of Homestays, to be either local women or housewives, as we’ve seen that these women consistently reinvest back into their communities
We’ve witnessed a shift in how women are able to advocate for themselves as they participate in the program. Community Homestay in Nepal is becoming a source of inspiration for the thousands of women, housewives, and girls from future generations who see the women of Community Homestay living an economically independent life rather than dependency on her husbands' salary.
WHAT RECENT MILESTONE(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
The recent and most proud milestones for the Community Homestay Network is to get selected among 10 startups in Booking Booster program. But, every day we are working to develop the community homestay, and, especially, the lives of women living in vulnerable communities. We also take pride in every little effort we put in the community homestay.
Sharing local culture and experiences with the world and giving the power back to local people to make their communities better - we're excited to see what Community Homestay Network can achieve in the coming weeks. Find out more about what they're doing on their website, or stay tuned to our blog to hear more about their time in the Booking Booster.