Founding Story

At age 25, Surya Karki has learned firsthand just how important education is. As a child in rural Nepal, Surya was offered the opportunity to leave his village to attend a school in Kathmandu, the country’s capital. Although it meant he wouldn’t see his mother for nine years, he knew he needed an education. His academic work was so successful that he won a two-year scholarship to an agricultural program at the United World College in Venezuela.

During his time away from his village and his country, Surya always wanted to give something back to his home village and his home country. In 2011, he returned to Nepal and helped co-found Maya Universe Academy (MUA) – a free community-run educational institution – and helped set-up its schools and farms.

Surya was born as a village boy living in poverty and developed into a sophisticated young man who enjoys many lucrative opportunities. Nevertheless, his primary motivation was to found social entrepreneurship ventures. As he said, “Thousands have seen the same problems I have seen but few of them have tried to solve them. I thought I ought to be different.”

Surya was shocked when he learned that more than half of Nepalese children quit school before reaching the lower secondary level.

This extraordinarily high drop-out rate led many young Nepalese to leave their country to find employment in the Gulf, Malaysia and the Middle East. This massive out-migration decimated the youth population and left Nepal’s fertile land untended. Nepal is facing a dire educational situation that perpetuates the long-standing poverty in the country. In direct response to this national catastrophe, Surya co-founded the Diyalo Foundation.

Surya recognizes that high quality education in rural Nepal is vital to improving agriculture in the country.

This, in turn, will create opportunities for Nepalese to move from poverty to prosperity. Surya co-founded the Diyalo Foundation to bring life to his vision of community development through education and agriculture.

This is a model he understands thoroughly because he has lived it since his childhood. He says, “I used to farm with my mother. We did not have enough food for the first few years when my mother was still learning farming. But as soon as her skills improved, we had more than enough to eat. Then came my education and also my sister’s education and wallaa… our lives changed for better very quickly. Education is the only reason I am able to envision a better world for everyone and take steps to make it a reality.”

Adam Rouhana

Adam studied cognitive science at the University of Rochester. Through his research, he had the chance to explore the mysteries of the mind, consciousness, and learning, but realized that while he loved brain science, research was not how he wanted to affect positive change. He was awarded a Take-Five Scholarship by the University of Rochester to build an interdisciplinary program of study called “Photojournalism and the Democratization of North Africa”, studying abroad in Morocco.

After graduating, Adam continued traveling and ended up in China and Tibet with a friend of who was walking from Beijing, China to Samarkand, Uzbekistan. During the trek, Adam met rural Himalayan families who lamented that they would love to send their children to school if only there were any. Adam couldn’t imagine growing up without access to education and decided to do something about it.

After returning to the US, he joined a startup called TarDisk based in the Harvard Innovation Lab to learn how to build a business. TarDisk is a filesystem allocation and hardware platform. He started on a team of three people and, as chief operating officer, within eight months was leading a 15-person company.

After several formative years learning how to build a business he left TarDisk, equipped to start his journey to transform education in Nepal. He linked up with Surya Karki, who had been studying at the College of the Atlantic in Maine and the Diyalo Foundation was born.