Monday, June 15, 2015

108 Prayer Flag Business- A Social Enterprise

In my last post I wrote about our tradition of offering 108 prayer flags for the departed souls, which means felling 108 young trees and therefore I proposed a green idea of making it a National service requirement ofeach Bhutanese citizen to plant 108 trees in one’s lifetime (within a given age range).

However, I stumbled onto another idea about the same issues and this time it’s a social business idea. Those of you who have physically gone through the process of finding, felling, peeling, and dragging 108 flag poles from deep woods over a long distance would know how arduous it is. Now, having to do it during the emotionally low time when you have lost someone in the family makes it heartbreaking. You would rather pay any cost to have someone else do it for you. Wouldn’t you?

Prayer Flag in the fields in Paro, Across my home


Now who could be that someone else? Here is the social business idea. We can build a social enterprise around this idea. There are already thousands of prayer flags standing along the hills in patches of clearings. They have done their job, prayers have faded and souls are delivered to heavens perhaps. What we could do is collect those old poles and store them up in warehouses in different regions and make sets of 108 poles ready to be delivered on a call and at a price.

During my difficult times, when my mother in-law passed away, I didn’t have the emotional, mental or physical strength to apply for pass from the forestry department, gather over twenty men and go deep into the woods to fetch that many poles. I remembered my good friend Tshering Tenzin, who knew the lam at Chhimi Lhakhang. I called him to help me because when his mother passed away we went there and the lam had kept more than 108 old poles ready. The same arrangement was made for me too. Amazingly it didn’t cost me anything though I would pay anything for such help.
Old flagpole at Chhimi Lhakhang
This social business will not only save bereaved families from any additional torment during difficult times but also safe trees greatly by reusing the poles for as long as they could last.

The enterprise can additionally explore new ways to replace flagpole with bamboo pole, metallic pole or any environmental friendly and economically sustainable options. 

And the good news is I am giving away this business idea to whoever wants to take it forward with the condition that you will aways keep it affordable. It's a social service more than business.

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