2023 Smart Bets Weekly Highlight: Atlas Network Partners in Nepal and Burundi

Street Traders

Each year, as part of Atlas Network’s Smart Bets program, we select ten high-achieving partner organizations that represent the freedom movement’s established and up-and-coming stars from around the world. These organizations are given a game-changing opportunity to make even more profound advancements in their work within the Smart Bets class. Membership provides partners with additional grant funding, access to collaborative meetings and consultations with the Atlas Network team and other Smart Bets organizations, and networking engagements with prospective donors. The pinnacle of the Smart Bets program is the chance to compete for an additional $50,000 grand prize to the organization that can demonstrate the most transformational impact of their work at the Liberty Investors Summit, held during the Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2022 in New York City.

The 2023 Smart Bets encompass three U.S. states and seven countries, representing five continents. This week’s featured 2023 Smart Bets include:

Bikalpa – an Alternative | Nepal
Countering Populism, Promoting Freedom

In just three decades, Nepal has changed its government a total of 28 times, including a transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, and finally to a Federal Democratic Republic. As a result, Nepal has lacked the political and policy stability that is essential for sustaining economic growth. Nepal’s primary political parties remain significantly left-leaning, holding populist ideologies and supporting illiberal policies that discourage business activities within the country. This is a significant contributing factor for the half-million Nepalese people who have been forced to seek economic opportunity as migrant workers in other countries. Political parties and policymakers are the most frequent headline-makers in the country, shaping common Nepalese perspectives. In 2018, Bikalpa - an Alternative sought to change the discourse in Nepal with the creation of Bikalpa Khabar: a news portal that promotes the values of freedom and prosperity, and exposes Nepalese audiences to the issues of public policy, entrepreneurship, political economy, governance, accountability and rule of law.

Bikalpa now aims to reach greater audiences by continuing to develop Bikalpa Khabar’s outreach with the general public and policymakers. Bikalpa Khabar’s articles and videos are fostering a more-informed citizenry, and have already gained a significant reach in their region, by introducing the values of freedom as a means to enhance human flourishing.

With support from the Smart Bets program, Bikalpa plans to update and upgrade the platform and expand its operation and outreach as a reliable online media source with the long-term goal of sensitizing people and influencing policy reform in order to create a free and prosperous Nepal.

Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes | Burundi

Street trading, a low-cost entrepreneurial activity, is the main source of income for a staggering 57% of the Burundian population. But due to a lack of economic and property rights, street traders are exposed to a range of risks including the threat of eviction, seizure of goods, and arbitrary fines. As a result of these vulnerabilities, street traders are severely limited in their ability to self-develop and sustain growth for their households. The Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (CDE Great Lakes) launched a project called “Harageze” (a local word in Burundi that means "It's time"), which aims to reform street trade laws as a means of economic progress in Burundi.

Harageze will specifically aim to: 1) Improve the standards of street trading by removing barriers within street trading law; 2) Decrease the cases of harassment and extortion of street traders; 3) Simplify procedures for street traders; 4) Improve the street trading regulatory environment; 5) Improve competition and innovation within the sector of agricultural products; and 6) Increase the number of street trading advocates. CDE Great Lakes intends to accomplish these objectives by launching a research project that will produce a Street Traders Index, generating engagement through a media campaign, and holding a Street Traders Forum. It is CDE Great Lakes’s hope that Burundi will become a country where property rights are well defined and legally secure for all people, without discrimination.