October 29, 2015 Print

Impoverished communities are home to many natural entrepreneurs, and electric rickshaws have proven to be an innovative new method for economically deprived residents of Nepal to meet the low-cost transportation needs of others. Artificial government-erected occupational barriers restrict the number of rickshaws that can operate legally, however, hitting enterprising low-income drivers the hardest by pushing them into the informal economy, points out Nepal-based Atlas Network partner Bikalpa, an Alternative.

“There are around 600 city rickshaws in Biratnagar city but only 300 of them are registered,” Bikalpa explains. “These unregistered rickshaws face a lot of hassles by the traffic police. Most often they are verbally abused, fined and their rickshaw seized. They also face the problems by other kinds of vehicle who don’t want these new rickshaws as a competitor in the same route.”

Abstract economic concepts become much more vivid when illustrated by a personal narrative, so Bikalpa has produced a short video titled “Gari Khana Deu” (“Let Me Earn My Living”), which shows how a man merely trying to earn a modest living and support his family is plagued by bureaucracy, regulatory hurdles, corruption, and bribery solicitations. The video was funded by a grant from Atlas Network’s Liberating Asian Enterprise project, which encourages Atlas Network partners in Asia to conduct original research and marketing projects that focus on overcoming obstacles to market exchange and examining the sources of cronyism that undermine free, competitive markets.

Watch the video below: