Enabling Fridays Community Nepal

Global Disability Innovation Hub, RAM CHANDRA THAPA
March 29, 2024
AT2030 Resources


We believe that now is the time to examine where more localized product and service innovation could unlock more sustainable and resilient AT ecosystem infrastructure in Nepal. We believe there is an opportunity to create better connections between the AT community and local manufacturers, with both newer digital and traditional fabrication expertise to enable sustainable technology transfer and promote innovation.

The Enabling Fridays Community Nepal want to bring together local and global expertise working in the AT sector to identify routes that would unlock local innovation, and improve current gaps in service. We have convened our initial stakeholder group over 3 sessions to collectively define problem indicators and set an agenda for what the next steps should be.

The overarching challenge for AT provision in Nepal is that there is currently no visible pathway to appropriately meet people's needs throughout their lifetime. In fact, the actual need for AT provision is unknown. A clearer understanding of Nepal and its systems and services across all stakeholder groups is required so we can work collaboratively to appropriately meet the needs of people with disabilities within context.

While there are innovators working to develop local technologies, the ecosystem around them, both locally and globally, is restrictive. There are strong signals of action to improve this, and we look to enable the ecosystem with grassroots innovation leadership to tackle this national problem.


The Enabling Friday concept is the brainchild of Ram Chandra Thapa, who is leading this initiative with the Nepalese innovation community. He approached the COVIDaction and then AT2030 programmes for support in developing the concept. Ram Chandra Thapa is a Nepali engineer and a social entrepreneur who is applying engineering in the development and humanitarian context. Some of his works are the design and development of energy efficient improved cooking stoves based on mud and local materials, and 3D printing and collaborative distributed manufacturing of personal protective equipments (PPEs) for the COVID-19 response in Nepal, supported by FCDO COVIDaction in 2020-21 and spares for broken medical devices. He is a co-founder of Zener Technologies - a local Nepali company specializing in 3D printing, digital manufacturing and local production. Zener is keen to use its cutting edge prototyping facility to support Nepali communities to develop disability innovations such as assistive technologies through the ‘Enabling Friday’ concept.

Through the FCDO COVIDAction Programme, the team were funded to upgrade their existing small prototyping facility to a more versatile local production firm and produce PPEs and other items to address local production needs during emergencies using a collaborative distributed manufacturing approach in Nepal. This brought together a conversation between University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Making (IoM) and Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) about the possibilities of continuing the good work under the AT2030 programme. The FCDO funded AT2030 programme, which is led by GDI Hub has been set up to test what system works to get assistive technology to people globally.

The Enabling Friday initiative aligns with the IoM Repair programme and GDI Hub Accelerate – which aims to create a global hub and spoke network of disability innovation ecosystems. This piece of work specifically helps answer questions like: What works in helping to support the development of a local production and repair economy for assistive technology in Nepal? As AT encompasses vital service delivery processes when providing an assistive product, there is scope for innovation throughout the life cycle of the product from design and production to rehabilitation & follow up, maintenance & repair - considering both product development and service delivery systems which appropriately meet AT user requirements. This not only lays out the vision of the emerging mission to enable the Nepalese innovation ecosystem to develop novel, sustainable AT solutions which are suitable for the local economy and communities.

Whilst AT2030 has helped to facilitate the conversations and connect Nepalese and global expertise, the thinking which is contained within this concept note is the result of multiple conversations from 16 partners representing 11 institutions including development sector, academia, private companies, hospital and clinics, and innovation centers who have given their valuable time freely between February to April 2022, with the aim to establish something which is sustainable in the long-term.