Miteri Clothing-Help Action Works Nepal (AWON) to Collect Used Clothing and Create Opportunities for Empowering Women!

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The Miteri Clothing business is run by Action Works Nepal (AWON), which was founded by friend and humanitarian Radha Paudel.  Radha goes out of her way to help everyone that she comes into contact with.  Given this I and many others want to help her out as much as possible. 

Radha has been described as “one of those people who just makes things happen.” During the civil war she went to Karnali and established a blood bank and a hospital for maternal surgery — the first in the entire region. After the war, she founded AWON on the principle of action over lip service, and assists primarily rural, poor and marginalized women to live dignified lives in a country still recovering from the civil war.  She has been internationally recognized by an N-Peace Award 2012 and Women Peace Maker Award 2012.

AWON is an NGO embedded in the communities in Karnali with a deep insight and understanding into local needs as well as credibility and relationships across the region. It takes an integrated approach to rural transformation tackling women’s empowerment, education support, livelihood improvement and humanitarian assistance; for details Action Works manages and co-ordinates this new social business.


Karnali is an extremely remote, mountainous and impoverished region of Nepal which was badly affected during the Maoist conflict. The area comes lowest on the Human Development Index in Nepal (NLSS, 2011) with 42% of the population living below the poverty line. Caste and gender discrimination in Karnali Zone is comparatively high resulting in lack of access for women, Dalits and marginalized people to resources and opportunities. There is a high need for livelihood development as well as access to basics such as food, clean water and warm clothing for protection against the cold weather.


Action Works Nepal has been working in communities across Karnali since 2001 with a particular focus on empowering women through access to savings and credit groups and exploring economic opportunities with poor and marginalized communities. Since 2010, AWON initiated a pilot social business collecting used clothes from Kathmandu to be recycled and resold locally in Karnali by women’s groups. The clothes are washed, repaired, ironed, labelled and packaged well to look like retail items rather than donations and sold at a price that is affordable to the poorest consumers. This preserves the dignity of the people buying the clothes and provides a sustainable income for the women’s groups.


The project has been informally piloted by Action Works Nepal (AWON) in 3 of the most remote districts within the Karnali region – Acham, Humla and Jumla, targeting the poorest population. Clothing was collected in Kathmandu and transported to the areas and sold by an AWON volunteer.

Data was not formally collected from the pilots, however the feedback described people queuing to buy the clothes and all items had sold out within the hour.  They sold 10 bags of clothes which amounted to 270 pieces. The clothes were a mixture of men’s, women’s and children’s items.

This experience shows that there is real demand for access to quality, affordable clothing in remote, poor villages. More communities across the region from Jumla, Kalikot, Humla and Accham are now demanding this clothing retail service.


The plan now is to formalise and scale up the operations by establishing a centre in Kathmandu run by women to collect, make good and package larger volumes of clothing for resale. Clothing will be sourced from Kathmandu.

Most of the clothing will be transported to women’s groups in Karnali. A shop hub will be established in villages. The hubs will also act as a multi-use community resource centre, an informal meeting place for the credit and savings group and a place where others from the village can sell their produce such as eggs, milk, bread etc. The hubs will represent a safe space for the communities that have experienced recent conflict during the civil war and will embody the Miteri spirit of living together. The profits from the clothing business will sustain the hubs and any surplus will be invested in the savings and loans group.

This model is scalable and can be established in different districts across Karnali as well as other remote areas in Nepal. The model will be based on the successful Oxfam run Frip Ethique model in Senegal.


This model has several key impact metrics:

  • ·         Number of women employed in sustainable livelihoods
  • ·         Increase in women’s annual income
  • ·         Tonnes of clothing recycled rather than thrown as waste
  • ·         Turnover and profit of the business to ensure it is financially sustainable

In addition, women’s confidence and empowerment will increase due to involvement in economic activity. The income and security will have additional benefits to their families health, welfare and education.


Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent


It is really good thing

Very Good

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