Kanchan Amatya (21, Nepal) is a young social entrepreneur currently serving as the UN Women’s Global Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment and UN Zero Hunger Champion. At the age of 16, she founded the Sustainable Fish Farming Initiative – a female owned microfinance social business that empowers women in rural Nepal and combats hunger and poverty through promoting sustainable fish farming. Kanchan closely works with women survivors of gender-based violence in Nepal and advocates for sexual and reproductive health rights. To promote her ideas and share a passion for fighting hunger in rural areas of Nepal, she led a delegation to pass the Girls Count Act in the White House and recently addressed the UN General Assembly.
Kanchan deeply understands the poverty and malnutrition problem that Nepal currently faces. Almost 50 percent of the population is undernourished, half of all children under 5 are chronically malnourished and one in four people lives below the poverty line. Furthermore, destruction caused by the April earthquake has significantly hurt the poorest population: smallholder farmers, especially rural woman and children, making the country heavily rely on food imports. With 500,000 Nepalese leaving the country per year for employment, it is increasingly important that developing countries like Nepal embrace the potential of aquaculture to sustain their independence with regard to food security and national income.
Therefore, Kanchan’s initiative aims to serve 500,000 women farmers to eradicate widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment in remote and vulnerable communities of Nepal as well as across the Asia-Pacific region through commercial sustainable aquaculture and aquaponics. Her plan includes assisting rural smallholder farmers, especially women from marginalized communities, so that they are not dependent on foreign aid. Kanchan’s goals also include breaking the poverty cycle in the country and building resilient post-earthquake communities through the program. In the past 3 years, the Sustainable Fish Farming Initiative has improved the lives of 10,000 rural women in Nepal through its technical and financial services, and continues to make a positive impact.