Executive Director, 85°East
Born in a small village in Myagdi, Nepal, Mahabir Pun is arguably one of the most influential people in Nepal. His journey began in 1993 when, after graduating with a B.A. in Science Education from the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK), he returned to his birthplace in Nepal and founded Himanchal High School, which eventually blossomed into the Himanchal Education Foundation. He returned to UNK to complete his M.A. in Education Administration in 2001.
Mahabir was recognized in 2002 as an Ashoka Fellow for his work on social entrepreneurship in Nepal, especially in Nepal’s isolated rural regions. In 2005, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award (popularly called the 'Asian Nobel Prize') for "his innovative application of wireless computer technology in Nepal, bringing progress to remote mountain areas by connecting his village to the global village". Through the Nepal Wireless Networking Project, Mahabir has brought wireless internet to over 175 remote Nepali villages.
In 2014, Mahabir was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society for his work "making Internet an unparalleled platform for innovation and communication, an engine for economic development and social progress that goes well beyond what we could have ever imagined."
Program Director, 85°East
Eve first came to Nepal in 2013 on a summer grant from Swarthmore’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, to serve as an intern for Early Childhood Development Center founder Pushpa Basnet. This experience sparked an interest in the unique, intricate world of international development, which served as the basis for the foundation of 85°East.
After graduating from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in History, Eve made it her mission to get back to Nepal and establish the kind of program she believed would help students develop a deep understanding of the pitfalls and intricacies of international development work. In June 2016, she signed on as 85°East’s Program Director. Eve’s responsibilities include leading student seminars, organizing student accommodations, and serving as the prime point of contact for summer interns in Nepal.
Program Founder, 85°East
Nimesh Ghimire is currently based in Washington DC, where he works at Ashoka, a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs. As Renewal Manager for its Changemaker Campus program, Nimesh is responsible for designing, iterating and implementing the process of institutional re-commitment to social innovation education for over 40 colleges and universities (from 9 countries) in Ashoka’s network. He was deeply involved in experimenting with – and learning from – grassroots engagement and innovation models during his undergraduate years, having co-led the design and implementation of two Innovation Labs in rural Nepal – a collaboration and resource space for community members to come together to design their own solutions to pressing local challenges, supported by MIT and USAID. Nimesh recently served as part of Oxfam Novib’s expert committee to identify and validate models to set up rural hubs in poor, traditional, and climate change affected areas for economic empowerment, with particular focus on enabling young women to be thriving entrepreneurs by ensuring safe mobility, access to finance, and mentorship. A member of the British Council’s Global Changemakers network, he also worked as part of World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Next Generation, providing youth voice and perspective to issues pertinent to the next generation. In 2009, Nimesh was selected as one of Asia-Pacific’s 100 most promising young social entrepreneurs by FYSE, a Hong-kong based foundation.
Nimesh graduated with a degree in Economics from Swarthmore College, where he was a Periclean Scholar.