Ms. Birgit Lienhart-Gyawali, a native of Austria, had no idea that her life would lead her to Nepal. She arrived to Nepal for development work in 2003, with a background in international relations and sociology. She’d always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. In 2010, she visited a coffee estate in Nepal and learned about the technique of coffee brewing. A cup of coffee took on a new meaning for her after that, and it was no longer merely a drink. She began by delivering a cup of coffee to individuals in Gyanmandala, which grew into a community. Kar.ma Coffee was formally founded in 2011 by her passion and newfound purpose.
Kar.ma Coffee is a brand of coffee that is known for its positive Kar.ma Coffee’s Birgit Leinhart-Gyawali
Founder of Kar.ma Coffee, Ms. Birgit Lienhart-Gyawali
We spoke with Ms. Leinhart-Gywali a few weeks ago, and she told us about her decade-long entrepreneurial experience in Nepal.
To learn more, read the chat!
Could you tell me a little more about the business?
In 2011, Kar.ma Coffee was a brand-new idea. Back then, there weren’t many coffee shops. Because of its innovative premise at the time, it received a lot of media attention. Customer input helped me figure out what was working and what wasn’t. We have never compromised on our principles since the outset. We want to educate people about the entire coffee supply chain while also promoting a circular economy. To reduce waste, Kar.ma Coffee uses all of the coffee’s by-products and creates a variety of innovative products. I used coffee to promote growth by effectively utilising resources and creating jobs.
Where do you get your materials from?
Our coffee comes from little communities in areas like Ilam, Kaski, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, and Nuwakot, among others. We transport the coffees in parchment form and process them in Kathmandu later. We never combine beans from different sources to ensure that we know where they come from. Although it is a costly process, we place a great value on quality. This also allows us to inform purchasers about the origins of the beans and how many families are supported by the coffee industry.
I designed the majority of the handicrafts. I want to find new ways to use all of the coffee by-products to provide people greater chances. To enhance the concepts and create prototypes, I collaborate with artists and other businesses. All of the goods are created specifically for Kar.ma Coffee, and we order more as demand grows.
What was the inspiration for your company’s name?
My spouse and I sought a name that reflected our approach to running our company. Every action we do in our firm aims to create a positive difference in people’s lives, the environment, and the economy. This seemed to be reflected in Kar.ma. However, because it was a common name, we added a dot to make it more interesting. It has now become a topic of discussion.
What are the current items available?
At the time, we have two locations: Gyanmandala and Boudha. The Hub has been relocated from Thamel to Boudha. We have a number of coffee kiosks in hotels and schools as well. Kar.ma Coffee also sells coffee and handicrafts internationally. Home brewing equipment, notebooks, and other crafts are examples of handicrafts. We also feature and encourage other efforts that compliment our principles in our outlets, as the idea of The Hub is to connect different business endeavours.
In terms of running a firm, who are your allies?
Our stores employ a total of ten individuals, and our handcrafted items are sold to a total of thirty people. We also feel it has an impact on the lives of 800 coffee-growing households.
What is the demographic of your target market?
Initially, expats were my target market. One of them was me. However, I began to notice a need for coffee among Nepali consumers even in the early days. We saw an increase of both Nepali and tourist customers in Thamel. However, the epidemic has made it quite evident that Nepali consumers are critical to my survival, and that more customers are really a bonus.
What were the most difficult aspects of launching this business?
The most difficult aspect was the disparity in work ethics. I come from a culture where work etiquette is considerably different from Nepal’s. Many things that I thought were natural at the time were not found in the Nepali work culture. As a result, I learned how to plan and complete tasks. This was true in my interactions with my coworkers, partners, and suppliers, among other things. Based on the requirement, I was willing to unlearn and relearn.
What are your strategies for dealing with rivals?
Coffee shops can be found in every nook and cranny. The competition is at an all-time high. However, it is now more important than ever to stand out via quality and consistency. I know I won’t be able to survive in this industry if I mimic what others are doing. I constantly keep to the things that people like and present new things that are distinct from what they’ve seen before. The developing business culture in Nepal inspires me to be more inventive, and the healthy competition has added to the excitement of this adventure.
What are the locations where customers can find your products?
Currently, we have two locations: The Hub (Boudha) and Kar.ma Coffee (Gyanandala, Patan). Our products are also available for purchase on our website. Customers can also reach out to us on Facebook and Instagram for more information about our products.
What has been your experience so far as an entrepreneur?
Every day, I have a goal in mind, and it motivates me. The desire to succeed in your work is fueled by your enthusiasm for it. Nepal faced numerous obstacles and problems following the 2015 earthquake. After surviving those experiences, I knew that no matter what happens, I can keep going. I feel that not everyone can devote the time and energy required to establish a business. To survive, it takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication.
Is there anything you’d like to say to fellow social entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
It is critical to be convinced of and committed to your notion. Even if you don’t know everything, you can learn it. It is, nevertheless, critical that you are prepared for this rollercoaster ride. Being an entrepreneur entails devoting the majority of your time and attention to it. You should pursue your concept if you sincerely believe in it.
Want to experience Nepali coffee while also helping to create jobs and support local producers? Now is the time to order your Kar.ma Coffee!