In the Makwanpur District of Nepal, Local Hero Mahesh Bhattarai is fighting for the socioeconomic empowerment of women. After graduating with a degree in Economics from the University of Nepal, he started his own business making recycled paper. With its success, he expanded the company to three manufacturing factories in Nepal – all the while donating a portion of his profits to local NGOs who were working to solve problems in the community.
Through his work, he met people from Bodyshop International who were interested in working with him to address social issues and sex trafficking in Nepal. With their support, Mahesh founded General Welfare Pratisthan (GWP) in 1993 to promote the socioeconomic empowerment of women. GWP works to educate the community about sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, reduce the number of girls who are trafficked to neighboring countries like India, and provide girls with business education, mentoring and micro/small business loans. GWP programs have impacted over 13,000 youth and their families.