Maya's Country Chicken

Our farming families raise Maya's chickens for a monthly salary and an improved economic opportunity for their children.

Photo of Bikalpa Baniya
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Maya Universe Academy

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 250 - 500

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Nepal

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Nepal: Byas-11, Udhin Dhunga, Byas 33900, Nepal


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

A majority of Nepali youth drop out of school during adolescence. The problem is especially acute in rural areas where the only educational options are low-quality public schools or unaffordable private school. Without quality schools, youth drop out to seek work, but their lack of qualifications severely restricts their opportunities and eventually forces them to find employment opportunities abroad. During the fiscal year 2015-16 alone, more than half a million youth moved out of Nepal for foreign employment.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We are tackling the root of the problem using chickens. We utilize the agricultural expertise in our low-income farming villages to provide educational opportunities for their children. Families raise chickens using Maya Universe Academy's resources in exchange for a monthly salary and free schooling for their children. The chickens are then sold to restaurants and businesses in nearby towns and cities, and the profit then goes back to the Maya Universe Academy to provide further resources to the children. Our families are increasing their financial productivity and ensuring their children finish school. Bhawani, one of two daughters of a single parent who partners to raise the chickens, goes to school every day because her father can rely on more than his subsistence farming. Moreover, Bhawani’s father not only supports his children’s education but also the educational resources of hundreds of children studying at Maya Universe Academy.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Makar Layo Magar, a parent at Maya’s Sagarmatha Branch, says, “We were in a state where affording basic education for our children was impossible. There was no way we could ever move to areas with established quality schools-we could never manage to pay the schooling fees of our children, not even the rent.” Now, Magar is one of many advocates of the school and the project. In 2011, our team set up a tent to start our school with 10 students; more than 200 families showed up for admission. Now we are educating more than 400 students in three different locations - for free. Parents pay in time instead of money by providing agricultural labor, animal husbandry, school maintenance and construction. Maya’s Country Chicken was established in 2015 to better sustain the school. Currently, we are producing 1000 chickens per month and working with eight families. The revenue generated provides additional resources for approximately 300 students at the main school.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Currently, grants and earned income are our sources of funds. This year we were awarded $10,000 from the Kathryn Davis Foundation. This seed capital raised our chicken production from 300 chickens per month to 1000 and our revenue from the sales to $4500 per month. We estimate the current project can earn a gross annual income of $54,000. We are sure further investments will return in similar scales. This will ensure that Maya’s Country Chicken can rely on its own revenue after the initial investments and continue empowering numerous youth and their families. Chickens are the most consumed meat in Nepal because of religious restriction on other meat. We will be using this demand to scale out the project to hundreds of families.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Maya Universe Academy is Nepal’s first free private school. Parents for the first time can use time instead of money to pay for their children’s education. Similarly, through Maya Country’s Chicken, families can both increase their financial productivity and send their children to school. This initiative is different because we are taking a grassroots approach starting with our families and their skills rather than a traditional top-down approach.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Families partner with Maya Universe Academy by volunteering two days a month at the school’s farms for their children’s education. As our partnership grew to more than 100 families, we investigated sustainable ways to ensure more children have a path to better opportunities. We realized that the parents’ volunteering time and skills could expand to their homes. By raising Maya’s chickens near their house, parents would not only increase the production but also be more involved with the project. This inclusive expansion would help us pave the way to reach out to millions of youth in need of better economic possibilities.

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