Sharif Shrestha ’17 is one of five students who will be recognized at the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), April 1 through 3, at the University of California, Berkeley. Shrestha will present a brief summary of his Commitment to Action project Herbs Cooperative for Economic Empowerment.
The CGI U is a subset project of the larger Clinton Global Initiative, begun in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton, which hosts annual meetings of world leaders. Each year, CGI U hosts a similar meeting of 1,000+ student leaders to discuss and develop innovative ideas to combat current global challenges.
Majors: Biochemistry and Economics
Hometown: Lalitpur, Nepal
High School: Gems Institure of Higher Education
After conceiving of the project in 2014, last summer Shrestha used a Levitt Center Social Innovation Fellowship to create Herbs for Change, an initiative to alleviate poverty and reduce gender inequality in two rural villages in Nepal by creating a cooperative herb farm. Shrestha and his team built two nurseries to grow Swetia, a medicinal herb, and employ 23 villagers, including 13 women. So far, the farm has increased these villagers’ average income by 75 percent. This income will increase further following the farm’s first harvest in May.
Some of the harvest revenue will be invested in local schools being built by United World Schools. The Herbs for Change team plans to construct at least four more nurseries. They plan to use the CGI U network in order to crowd-fund their project’s growth and to form partnerships with similar initiatives. They hope this will enable them to expand their impact and make Herbs for Change independently sustainable.
Shrestha was among four Hamilton students who were invited to the 2015 CGI U in Miami. “Last year, I introduced my project for a grant and went as a normal participant,” he said. “But every year CGIU chooses 5-6 functioning and successful commitments from thousands of previous applicants. The selection is extremely selective on the basis of current progress and future promise.
“For CGIU to recognize our hard work and social impact is a huge achievement for me and my team,” said Shrestha. “Having worked on this project for two years now, this news only makes me work harder to maximize my impact. Moreover, this is a great platform for us to spread our mission statement to inspire others in similar areas to capitalize on local resources for maximum and sustainable impact.”
Other Hamilton students selected to attend this year’s CGI U are Aleksandra Bogoevska ’17, Andy Chen ’16, Leonard Kilekwang ’16, Alexandru Hirsu ’17, Emily Moschowits ’16 and Tsion Tesfaye ’16.