Since October 2017, we have been following Elevate Nepal’s progress as they try to rebuild in Nepal. In this update with co-founder, Dan Maurer, we hear about his recent 3-month trip to Nepal, plans for the 2nd annual Big Lebowski-themed bowling fundraiser, and an update on their earned revenue strategy, importing coffee beans from Nepal and selling them in the United States. For past episodes about Elevate Nepal, check out Episode 5, Episode 10, and Episode 23.
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For a full transcript of this episode, read on below:
00:06 Speaker 1: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder, who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good, and what it means to be good?
00:27 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Welcome back, this is your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, with another bonus episode for Do Good, Be Good. Today, I have one of my favorite guests, Dan Maurer, the co-founder of Elevate Nepal. I interviewed Dan way back in October 2017 on Episode 5. I also did an update with him in Episode 10 and Episode 23. And now Dan is back from another three-month visit to Nepal, to continue the work that they’ve been doing there. He and his co-founder Anthony Mancini, founded this non-profit to help rebuild Nepal after the earthquake. To get the backstory on how they founded the non-profit and why they did it, and why Nepal, I really recommend listening to Episode 5, if you haven’t already. And then in Episode 10, they also talk about this fundraiser, which is a Big Lebowski-themed bowling night.
01:27 ST: And in today’s episode, we’re gonna hear about the second annual bowling fundraiser. So hopefully you can catch up with your old friend Dan Maurer, [chuckle] and listen in to how this has developed over three years as they continue to try new models of non-profit fundraising, and figure out how to have a greater impact in Nepal while also maintaining a sustainable non-profit. I hope we get to continue to follow Dan’s journey as he and Anthony build this amazing non-profit, and do good work in Nepal.
02:06 Dan Maurer: I’m Dan Maurer, co-director of Elevate Nepal, and I’m fresh back from Nepal. We do Aid Work over in Nepal, as most people know. I got back about 10 days ago, after 91 days in country. I overstayed my Visa by one day, but with a smile at immigration and a couple of Nepali words, I went on through without penalty. It was a good trip. We’d been promoting Sarsyu Primary School, which we’ve been fundraising for about 18 months. And we started construction in the beginning of November of 2018, and construction is ongoing, but we’re making great progress. Things are under way, and it should be wrapped up by June of this year. So we’re super excited about that project.
02:54 ST: I feel like I saw on social media somewhere that you ran into a Flagstaff person while you were in Nepal?
03:02 DM: We did. Nick, who I’m sorry, I cannot remember his last name, works over at Mountain Mojo, and he was there doing some climbing in Solukhumbu, which is the Everest region, and we’re walking down the streets of Kathmandu, and the Anthony spotted him. And it was like, “Oh hey, hey, Nick.” We chatted like as if we bumped into each other on San Francisco Street, had a chat for 10-15 minutes and then, enjoy your trip and off he went. So, kinda funny.
03:30 ST: That’s right, Mountain Mojo, that’s why I saw it, ’cause they, of course designed my logo. They’ve been a great supporter and I saw that. It sounds like they’re doing some kinda work for you guys now?
03:40 DM: They are. They’re doing our social media and promotion for our Big Lebowski, Second Annual Big Lebowski Charity Night.
03:48 ST: What a smooth transition there.
03:50 DM: March 2nd at Starlight Lanes.
03:52 ST: Oh, do we need to recap why Starlight Lanes is so amazing?
03:57 DM: No, I think we covered that in podcast two. So if you’re looking to figure out about Starlight Lanes, go back to podcast two with me.
04:05 ST: Well, it is nice to hear that they are continuing to support you guys. And it sounds like it went well enough that they’re ready to do it again.
04:13 DM: They are. Last year was a big success for us. It was a Big Lebowski-themed charity bowling night. I think we had just shy of 170 people come out, 31 teams, and we raised almost $11,000 in that night. So, well represented by the Flagstaff community and the local businesses. Same format this year, looking for teams, all our sponsors already lined out. That’s good news, but we’re looking for teams, so come on out and support again.
04:42 ST: That’s awesome. How many people do you have to have to have a team?
04:45 DM: You need five people.
04:46 ST: Do I remember correctly? It was $250 for five people?
04:50 DM: Correct. So $50 a head, that gives you all the pizza, salad, and softdrink you can handle. Live band, one free cocktail, and then a cash bar after.
05:01 ST: Is it the same band as last year?
05:03 DM: Different band. Last year we had Sir Harrison. Sir Harrison band come up out of Phoenix, they rocked the house. But this year we have Arizona Hired Guns, out of the Doney Park, coming over. And they’re local, but they’re well-known around town.
05:19 ST: What style of music?
05:21 DM: They’re just gonna blow the doors off. They play a lot of old classic rock, got some blues and some funk sounds, so come out and listen to them. If anything that’ll be worth it.
05:32 ST: Is it danceable?
05:33 DM: Oh, it’s very danceable.
Get your bowling shoes and cut the rug.
05:39 ST: You gotta be careful if you’re dancing in bowling shoes. Those are very slippery.
05:42 DM: It’s true, but dance in the carpeted area, so in case you do go down, you know, you have some padding.
05:48 ST: It’s nice. Okay.
05:49 DM: Oh, and one exciting thing this year is I’ll give my other plug shout out to a local business, is Historic Brewing Company, is going to be brewing a Blonde Ale with Sapana coffee, which Sapana coffee is Elevate Nepal’s imported Nepalese coffee. So they’re donating a half-barrel of this Blonde Ale that they’ll be making this weekend to the cause, so if you buy that beer and drink it, the more you drink, the more you help the country.
06:18 ST: A blonde coffee beer?
06:20 DM: Yes. A blonde…
06:22 ST: Okay.
06:23 DM: A blonde ale with coffee. It will be on tap. I think it’ll be $4 a pint and 100% of the proceeds go to Elevate Nepal. So the more you drink, the more benefit.
06:34 ST: And does it have caffeine in it? Do you get to keep your energy up for bowling?
06:39 DM: I guess, it would. It’s infused with the cold brew, which cold brew has caffeine, so beer has alcohol, so in my eyes you’ll just be steady Eddie all day.
06:50 DM: Drink as much as you want.
06:52 ST: Okay, your uppers and downers, all in one drink.
06:54 DM: Exactly, at 7000 feet how perfect.
06:57 ST: Excellent. Okay. Yeah, how is the coffee going in general? What are the highlights we need to know since the last time about coffee? Last time, you were just introducing the coffee.
07:08 DM: Right.
07:09 ST: It was coming into Phoenix, Anthony was handling getting the coffee roaster down there to roast it.
07:14 DM: Right.
07:15 ST: You were selling it online mostly, but also in a couple of places in Flagstaff.
07:21 DM: That’s it. Well, it turns out Anthony has drank all the coffee, so we’ve made no money unfortunately, but we’re gonna order more. But he hasn’t slept in six months. Now, coffee, Sapana Coffee, which is Nepalese coffee imported by us is going quite well. End of July, let’s see, we imported 1200 pounds and we’re down to about 100 pounds left. We just ordered another shipment, which is probably sitting on the tarmac in Kathmandu right now waiting for a plane that’s likely loaded to carry our 500kg out. Our coffee was tested by Q Cupper. And a Q Cupper is an official taste tester of coffee, if you will.
08:03 ST: Why is it called a Q Cupper?
08:05 DM: Q Cupper? You had to ask me that question. I read this the other day and now I can’t remember, what word is it? Quality? No.
08:12 ST: That kinda makes sense.
08:13 DM: It kinda makes sense.
08:14 ST: Quality of the cup.
08:15 DM: Quality of the cup. And if anybody in the coffee industry was listening to this, I’d really be laughed at. So let’s go with Q Cupper. [chuckle]
08:22 ST: We’re just gonna make that up. It stands for quality of the cup.
08:25 DM: It’s a very rigorous process to become a Q Cupper, which I learned a lot about in that book you gave me, Mocha Mocha, which I finished on the plane on the way home. These people are official taste testers of coffee, like if your wine or beer or whatever it might be. We sent it off to The Specialty Coffee Association of America. If your coffee ranks 83 points and above it’s considered specialty grade coffee. Sapana coffee ranked at 86.5, so it’s considered specialty coffee and we think we can do some modifications on the farming and production side of it, to hopefully get that bumped up a few more points to the high 80s and low 90s.
09:13 ST: I hope you’re enjoying my conversation with Dan. I just wanted to interrupt briefly to let you know that we’ll be coming soon with season 4. I’m still looking for additional sponsors for season 4, so if you’re interested in sponsoring the Do Good, Be Good podcast, contact me at email@example.com.
09:34 DM: We work from our homes like you do, but we have stuff strewn all over the place between Kathmandu, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. So you think you know where something is and you don’t.
You know it can be in one of six places, and sometimes those are important things. We haven’t lost anything big yet, but that’s always a fun game. It’s like, where’s this? And so far one of us can remember where the business cards are or the lot of cash that we’re supposed to be carrying to the village, I haven’t lost that yet.
10:10 DM: But there’s a lot to keep track of.
10:12 ST: There is.
10:13 DM: Yeah. And my brain is still functioning, so I’m thankful for that. [laughter] Right. And then piggybacking on that, is as I’m sitting here my phone is going off and I know it’s Anthony asking me a million questions. I think one thing you do realize with running your own operation, your own business, is how many people you need to coordinate, especially when it’s a one-woman or two-man team or when you don’t have a big staff or a big support group, you’re doing everything. Especially us working internationally, I’m dealing with two different countries and then a million different people on each side of it. So you’re amazed at how many people you talk to every day, just to maybe approve something or to make sure a project is still moving along or whatever that might be. And then you’re like, “Wow, I do a lot of coordination.”
11:09 ST: And how is it going with Anthony?
11:13 DM: We’re still good.
11:15 ST: Still friends? Not sick of each other?
11:16 DM: Still friends. Well, yeah, I don’t know about sick of each other, but… No, we’re very lucky that we are such good friends. He was in Nepal for two months, I was there for three. I think maybe one or two nights we were apart from each other, and that’s sometimes sharing a bedroom, sharing an apartment, very small living quarters, and we didn’t choke each other. [chuckle] But I do remember one day, maybe six weeks in, we both wake up and he looks at me and he says, “I can’t wait to never see you again.”
11:52 DM: But then we laughed and then carry on with the day, so surprisingly no, no one has gone after each other’s throat yet. If anything that we’re learning is, everything on this side of the globe, Anthony and I handle pretty well. Of course, it would be nice to have a staff member to help us with things here and there. Our main weak point is the other side. This trip, I realized we’re gonna probably hire an accountant and then maybe another project manager or maybe a secretary, all that type of stuff is gonna happen on the Nepal side before here, ’cause we have an accountant and a lawyer here and whatnot. But in terms of like an Elevate Nepal staff, full-time staff, that’s gonna probably happen more on the Nepal side, before it happens on this side.
12:43 DM: And that was one thing we learned this trip, ’cause we’re… The school, it’s the biggest project we’ve ever pursued and it’s an $80,000 budget. Moving $80,000 from Elevate Nepal USA to Elevate Nepal Kathmandu, and then up to these rural villages, it’s more of a task than what I just said in one sentence. It can be very daunting at times. So getting procedures in place on that end, to make sure money is going the right way and to the right businesses and all that, that was one thing we learned in this trip. And so far so good. No money has disappeared, and we’ve been tracking it all, so we’re happy with that. [chuckle] Keep it up.
13:26 ST: Yeah. There’s definitely the need for those people on the ground that can keep it organized from when you’re doing the coordination on this side, but then keeping organized with how that turns into implementation on that side.
13:40 DM: Right.
13:40 ST: Yeah.
13:41 DM: It’s like, for example, our school, we have a Resham, who’s our in-country coordinator who is our partner with Elevate Nepal, good Nepali friend. He’s basically us in Nepal out of Kathmandu. But up in Sarsyu, we hired a project manager, a guy I know very well and it’s his village, Sarsyu is where he comes from. We also hired a general contractor. So Sandesh, who’s overseeing the whole project, he can report back to Resham and then me. And he’s been overseeing it very, very well, coordinates with… What was the word I just used, I can’t remember?
14:17 ST: General contractor?
14:18 DM: General contractor, that’s the one. These are big one. I’m still speaking to Nepali half in my mind, so excuse me. But the coolest thing was we started the school with four guys, and then he said, “Well, we could use a few more.” It’s like, “Okay.” So then we want to six, then we went up to eight. In the past two months, we’ve been employing 16 local people in the village, including Sandesh and Resham. So you have 18 people on staff in Nepal. And to me, it’s moving along swimmingly and going great, and I think to myself, if I have to manage 18 people, on this side, I’d be ripping my hair out even more, but it’s really cool what is actually happening locally in Sarsyu in Nepal.
15:00 DM: Anthony and I talk quite a bit. We probably have to give each other pep talks. Maybe we do it too often, but that’s kind of your motivation, to keep each other going and motivated about your cause. But I would say, I’m very lucky for what I do, and I’m very happy. Elevate Nepal was an idea that Anthony and I talked about for four, five years, and then we finally launched it, not really knowing what would become of it. And now I can say we are doing very well. The growth that we’ve had in two years, we’ve blown ourselves away, and I think we’ve impressed many other people. And I think in a sense, we’re just getting started. So I’m very happy to be doing what I’m doing. Ultimately, I thank a million people, but the community of Flagstaff, and then mostly I thank the country of Nepal for welcoming me as a family member and then all the friends that I’ve met over there. So it really is like a coming home every time I go over there. I’m very, very happy to be doing what I’m doing. And I thank everybody for their support. I mean that very genuinely.
16:09 ST: Yes. As much as we talked about how hard it can be to do this type of work, I had the moment the other day where I was here in my home office, I was getting ready to do a webinar. I was actually listening to music and dancing to try to get myself all pumped up to do this webinar. And I just thought, “How amazing is this, that I get to earn money from a room in my house talking to people I actually care about.” ‘Cause the webinar was for a group that I just genuinely love, and talking about stuff that I learned in the last 10 years and just being able to share what I had learned with them. It was like, “This is crazy and amazing and wonderful.” So, yeah.
16:54 DM: That’s great. Yeah, carry on, Sharon. You’re doing good work. [chuckle]
17:00 ST: Carry on Dan, you’re doing great work. I feel like that’s like a [17:05] ____ world. [chuckle]
17:06 DM: It could be a t-shirt.
I guess, it could be a t-shirt, might be coming up, Elevate Nepal. We’ll start selling them this summer. Sorry you couldn’t be here Anthony, but we had more fun without you. Make sure our coffee is roasted by the end of the week and send my business cards, I’m waiting for those.
17:24 ST: Thank you, for listening to Do Good, Be Good. To receive every episode as soon as it is released make sure you subscribe to the show in Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Google Music or whatever your podcast purveyor of choice is. Today’s episode was edited and produced by me, Sharon Tewskbury-Bloom. Music in this episode is bathed in fine dust by Andy G. Cohen found in the free music archive, and released under an International Creative Commons License.
17:57 ST: For more information about the show, you can visit our website dogoodbegood.com or follow us on Facebook, facebook.com/dogoodbegoodshow. Until next time, this is Sharon Tewskbury-Bloom signing off.