After the 2015 earthquake in Nepal killed more than 9,000 people, including 19 climbers on Mount Everest, and caused up to $10 billion in damages, Dr. Anil Regmi wanted to help, but he did not know how.
The founder of Urban Pet Supply and a practicing veterinarian who has been working in the field for over 25 years, Dr. Regmi thought about donating money but he was suspicious of the fund getting usurped by the intermediaries.
Therefore, he decided to start his own company that would help the people of Nepal earn their bread and butter by producing Churpi and felted handicrafts sold to pet owners in the U.S.
On a trip back home, he bought some yaks and hired local people to take care of the yaks and make cheese from the milk of the yaks.
The cheese is called churpi, a hard cheese fermented for a smoky taste.
The cheese is shipped to Kathmandu for storage. Once there is enough for a shipment, it is transported by barge and truck to Urbandale, where it is packed as pet dental chews.
The treats are then supplied at Dr. Regmi’s veterinary practice, an online store at Urban Pet Supply, and Hy-Vee and Fareway stores in the Des Moines area.
According to Regmi,
“He is not making any money on this. Whatever is made is almost entirely spent over there (Nepalese people).”
2. Felted Handicrafts
After the success of Churpi in 2020, Regmi decided to invest in Araniko Art & Craft, a small factory in Kathmandu that produces felted products, like slippers, gloves, hats, coasters, and other decorations.
If anyone has ever bought a felted Christmas tree ornament or felt ball garland, there is a good chance it came from Nepal.
Primarily prepared by women, they gather handfuls of colorfully-dyed sheep’s wool and rub it on plastic mats with soap and water until the fibers bind together to form a new substance known as wool felt.
Unlike regular woven wool, this felt is made without thread, making it a unique product that is perfect for various uses!
Once the wool pieces come together, it is put into a machine that spins out the water from the bottom, just like a clothes dryer.
Then the pieces are dried in the sun before the decorations are sewn on by hand. The people in the Himalayas make a living by selling these.
Regmi estimated that he had invested at least $1 million in Nepal since 2015, providing a fantastic opportunity for those needing consistent employment.
Dr. Regmi has also applied to USAID, a U.S. government program that offers financial support for international development and humanitarian efforts. He would like to use the funds to buy more yaks to produce more churpi.
Dr. Regmi believes that by providing a market for Nepali products in Iowa, he will be able to return more money to the workers.
Most of his customers know that the items they purchase benefit the people of Nepal.