When the government gets in the way, sometimes even the hardest-working people get stuck in poverty.
In Nepal, where more than one-quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, small local shops known as Kirana Pasals are forced to operate in the informal, black market economy because of high taxes, excessive regulations, and government red tape.
Luckily, these businesses are finally getting a voice. Thanks to funding from private donations and the Atlas Network (a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit), Samriddhi: The Prosperity Foundation, a small non-profit in Nepal, is setting out to help small shop owners across the country advocate for themselves and loosen the government stranglehold on small entrepreneurs. According to Arpita Nepal, Samriddhi’s director:
What [Kirana Pasals] need is the opportunity to thrive. They need rules that help them prosper instead of rules that keep them in poverty. With this mission, Samriddhi will study 100 Kirana Pasals and organize an advocacy campaign that will bring store owners and policymakers together to help change policies that are blocking Kirana Pasals’ progress.
Samriddhi’s goal is to advocate for economic freedom and be a voice for hard-working entrepreneurs whose success is held back only by bad government policy. With any luck, Samriddhi and local Kirana Pasals can help reverse Nepal’s slide toward economic repression.
According to The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, Nepal’s economic freedom has declined four points since its peak in 2007, making it one of the least economically free countries in the world. If economic freedom fails in Nepal, Kirana Pasals and other entrepreneurs will remain stuck in this senseless cycle of poverty.