Raghabendra KC – Co-founder of Making Lives Better

[quote style=”boxed”]Never give up and never stick to one solution. Think of every single way you can tackle a problem and then choose your path. There is always more than one way to accomplish a task.[/quote]

Raghabendra KC was born in Kathmandu, Nepal to Mr. Raju KC, an officer in the Nepalese Army and Mrs. Shanti KC, a professor of history in the Nepalese University. One of the highlights of KC’s childhood was his travel to greater Nepal. KC accompanied his father in most of his travel throughout the country and from childhood was exposed to the sufferings of his fellow countrymen. KC grew up to be very strong academically and was admitted to the prestigious Budhanilkantha School (the national school of Nepal) for secondary education. It was there where he was able to nurture his passion for change-making. Through student organizations, KC was able to travel to remote villages in Nepal conducting small scale projects for the village’s well being. As the president of the Forum of Young Economists, KC was able to conduct various programs that catered to his fellow teammates’ academics and bring about social justice in various communities.

After high school, KC took a year off to teach high school students various subjects, including mathematics and economics. In fall 2009, he was awarded the George Harriett Cornell Scholarship to attend Rollins College. At Rollins, KC has been very successful academically, maintaining a 3.95 GPA while double majoring in Mathematics and Economics with an honors degree. He has been part of the Student-Faculty collaborative summer research and has had the opportunity to present his findings in three different conferences. KC is also the co-founder of Making Lives Better (MLB). The organization, founded at Rollins in August 2009, exists in three different institutions throughout the US and has raised over $100,000 to conduct various developmental projects in Nepal. In April 2012, KC presented his projects at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), a movement he has been a part of since 2010. This year, KC is a campus representative for CGIU and is actively recruiting social entrepreneurs to aid with their ideas and help bring them to action. Apart from CGIU and MLB, KC is actively involved with the X Club Fraternity, Interfraternity Council, Office of Residential Life and has led multiple immersion trips through the office of community engagement.

What are you working on right now?

There are two projects I am currently engaged in. The first project is with the Clinton Global Initiative University. I was lucky to attend two of the conferences and present in one of them in the last three years. It has been extremely instrumental in my personal and professional growth and the growth of my organization, Making Lives Better. It is an amazing platform and for this reason, I am working on helping others attend the conference so they may gain from the amazing experience. In addition, through Rollins’ Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Initiative, we are working to help turn these ideas into action. Through mentoring, training and workshops, the team provides these changemakers resources to succeed.

The second project I am working on is an extension of the idea of Making Lives Better. I am finally able to combine the mission of the organization, my passion, my majors and my honors degree together to research on the ways to bring the opportunities of finance to the underprivileged. Through research and modeling, I am trying to find practical solutions for real problems people face in my country.

Where did the idea for Making Lives Better come from?

In summer 2010, I was exposed to the financial divide in the country and wanted to do something about it. In 2011, I approached Dr. Jay Yellen with an idea of a portfolio optimization research. We did an independent study researching possibilities of its application for a semester and this is where we are as a result of it.

What does your typical day look like?

My day looks like any other college student’s. I think I have less free time though.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I tend to look at different ways to solve a problem and pick the one that is most efficient. As far as new ideas go, I focus on things that disturb or anger me the most. This is where I believe my passion comes from. This passion is what has helped me tackle the water purification issue and the problem with education equality in Nepal.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Educational institutions taking the social entrepreneurship initiative is the one thing that really excites me. I think this is the future.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I worked in a position on campus that appealed to me in the beginning. I am trying to refrain from stating what position that was or describing the role. It taught me who I was and what I really wanted to do with life. It was an amazing experience that ended with me reflecting on everything I have accomplished and where I want to be in ten years.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything I have been through, every little failure has taught me and made me who I am.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Never give up and never stick to one solution. Think of every single way you can tackle a problem and then choose your path. There is always more than one way to accomplish a task.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My supervisor a few years ago called it ‘intellectual ADD.’ Today I know what she meant. I jumped from ideas to ideas without fully accomplishing one. That was my biggest problem and it led me to some big failures. How I overcame it is simple. I chose to stick with the ideas that matter and the issues that anger me. Emotion is where passion comes from.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I don’t know if this qualifies as a new idea, but I have always been eager to work on a PR venture in Nepal. The market has tremendous opportunities and not a single player. A PR firm here could do wonders.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would change the economic/financial divide and the best way to go about it is through education.

Tell us a secret.

After high school, I almost gave up on college to go to a flight school because I have always wanted to fly.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

• Google! – hands down everybody’s favorite
• Jstor – amazing for academic research
• simplynoise.com – nothing else helps me concentrate as much as the white noise

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

For the strong message and the spirit of entrepreneurship it carries, I wholeheartedly recommend Lessons from the Poor by Alvaro Llosa.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Yesterday when I slipped on ice and fell on my backside.

Who is your hero, and why?

My father, who I think is an amazing intellect in the rough. It was him who taught be from my childhood to look at things from various angles and to never stick to solving a problem in just one way.

Where do you see yourself right before you retire?

I personally see myself in politics before I retire. I think that would be the peak of my career. I’ll be able to make an impact at the largest scale possible.

What is your greatest strength?

I believe my greatest strength is the passion that backs my actions. Whether it is anger at a social problem or the desire to make an impact, passion is what takes me above and beyond.


Raghabendra KC on Facebook: www.facebook.com/raghabendra