Start-ups and SMEs started getting due attention in the form of events and financial support from government and foreign agencies
Events in Nepal
The world is currently undergoing a phase of booming start-ups and growing small-scale industries, which were once struggling to come to lime light.
Nepal as one of the most-happening countries in the recent times is no exception to such trend! Here in this story, we will take a look at some of the important updates that speak the rise of start-up and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) trends in Nepal:
Nepal Start-up Meet: Phase – I
Taking the start-up trend to newer heights, the Nepal Entrepreneurs Society organized the first installment of ‘Nepal Start-up Meet’ on June 22, 2018.
The program is a network of start-ups, policymakers, business houses, diplomatic agencies, IGOs and NGOs, where entrepreneurs starting their venture can share ideas about their business and look for potential investors.
The event witnessed a gathering of 23 start-ups including Metro Tarkari, Champak Namuna, Sunbridge Nepal, Mobile in Nepal, Laurekho Khabar, Easy Abroad, AgriCorp, Nepali Dhobi and Vending Machine Nepal, who shared their ideas and made their business pitch amidst the gathering.
In his address to the start-up fraternity, the President of Ganesh Man Singh Academy Nabindra Raj Joshi said that the private sector has an important role in the country’s development and pitched for policy-level support for the same.
He also motivated Nepali youth by urging them to not only come up with ideas, but also materialize them into successful businesses.
In his speech, Raj Joshi drew attention to how the government policies had failed to put the youth on the fore-front and assured that his team would persuade the government to develop a start-up policy.
In an interesting update for students, the Nepali Congress leader said that they were holding discussions with universities in Nepal to create programs on entrepreneurship.
The event was an initiative taken by the Ganesh Man Singh Academy.
MIT Steps In for Nepali Start-ups
Towards encouraging the country’s rising start-up and entrepreneurship culture, the world’s renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of USA has recently launched the MIT Global Startup Labs (GSL) in Nepal.
As a joint initiative of MIT, Kathmandu University (KU) and NCell, the new program was launched at a special program in Kathmandu amidst the presence of international and national collaborators, Nepali government officials and academia.
MIT GSL-Nepal is going to be a two-phase intensive 7-week innovation boot camp (June 15-August 2, 2018) including a special course on mobile technology & entrepreneurship with a total of 35 KU students and other young alumni.
As a student-to-student lab led by four MIT instructors, the boot camp will help Nepali participants develop their own startup projects, right from the stage of ideation to final execution.
#MITGSLNepal will end with the Demo Day highlighting the teams’ project prototypes.
MIT Faculty Co-Director for GSL Professor Saman Amarasinghe, Senior Director of Nepal Telecommunications Authority Ananda Raj Khanal, Managing Director of Ncell Suren J Amarasekera, Registrar of KU Professor Dr Bhola Thapa, Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy to Nepal Grace Caroll and Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Nepal Swarna Perera were among the key delegates present at the launch event.
J Amarasekera: We are delighted to partner with MIT and KU to bring the MIT GSL program to Nepal. This is in line with our vision to help nurture ‘technopreneurship’ spirit among young talent through innovation.
Proff. Amarasinghe: With Ncell’s generous support, I am excited that MIT is able to bring the GSL program to Kathmandu University for the first time. We hope some of the participants will be able to use this experience to revolutionize the Nepali digital ecosystem and even make a global impact.
The GSL program is part of MIT’s initiative to empower youth technology entrepreneurs globally and drive the start-up ecosystem in emerging economies. The program has so far covered 25 countries in last 18 years including South Asian nations such as India and Sri Lanka. Now, Nepal joins the list.
NSU Tech Fest 2018 For New Talents
In a move promoting new talent and their innovative ideas, the Nepal Students Union (NSU) hosted a special program on June 9, 2018, encouraging many Nepali students to showcase their innovative ideas to investors.
#NSUTechFest2018 is a day-long event that brought together many upcoming engineers from 30 different colleges.
“Students have different kinds of creativity, but they have difficulty finding a platform to showcase them. This kind of event is aimed at showcasing their talents and helping them find investors willing to finance their innovative ideas,” says Melli Shah, Coordinator of the event.
The program witnessed the participation of professionals from a wide range of engineering departments such as civil, architecture, rural development IT & Computer Science, and electrical branches.
More than 40 stalls that provided information on technology integration across various sectors such as agriculture, food, health, tourism, electricity and infrastructure development were also set up at the event.
In a move encouraging start-ups, Nepal’s resource organization committed to entrepreneurship Industrial Enterprise Development Institute (IEDI) and a private firm called Antarprerana jointly organised a one-day event in Kathmandu on June 04, 2018.
The #StartupExhibition&ExpoNepal was aimed at promoting Nepali start-ups and linking them with the big ventures, while showcasing their respective products.
“We organised the expo to allow start-ups to gain real market experience,” says Niraj Khanal, CEO of Antarprerana.
The expo featured a total of 42 start-ups belonging to different sectors such as Information Technology (IT), construction, tourism, agriculture, food, health, hotel and handicrafts.
Speaking about the response to the event, Khanal said, “The kind of participation seen at the event shows that youths have interest in multiple sectors,” adding that they are planning a bigger expo in the future.
The expo has really drawn a good response as many start-ups and other participants, who participated in the event, said that was a great opportunity for them to showcase their business and plan further expansion.
Overall, participants opine that “start-ups need exposure and this type of platform provides immense opportunities to meet with investors and customers.”
“We got an opportunity to meet with different types of people through the expo. It is definitely going to help us expand our business,” says Sabi Singh, CEO of Online Aausadhi, one of the first-of-its-kind medical start-ups of Nepal that provides medicines through online services.
Start-ups for Sustainable Development : A Glance At Success Stories
Ashish Dangal, coordinator of Smart Tech, a start-up that started 10 years back and now an IT service provider to government and private sectors, shares about bridging gaps between academia and profession.
“To fulfill the gap between study and profession, the company provides training to civil engineering students. They learn practical methods with us so that they can handle any problems that arise at work,” says Ashish.
Speaking on IT adoption across government departments, he adds, “Initially, it was difficult to convince them on how traditional working style can be changed particularly among government officials. Now, we are getting good feedback.”
Another start-up called ‘Ek Yatri’ intends to support the country’s tourism department.
Developed by Sunim Acharya, Manish Parajuli and Rabin Raj Gautam of Kathmandu Engineering College developed an app called ‘Ek Yatri’ to promote country’s tourism. The firm plans to launch the app soon and deliver its support for the Government of Nepal’s ‘Visit Nepal Campaign’ in 2020. “Idea is the key for a start-up and it has to be saleable in the market,” says Acharya.
There is another start-up that speaks about innovative eco-friendly solutions to address electricity concerns across the country by producing more electricity at a lower investment. “Nepal’s electricity sector is in need of innovative ideas. Proper government and private sector funding is necessary to boost start-ups,” says Roshan Bhatta, a civil engineer student.
Swad Gazzabko, a food start-up that started four years ago with a group of four people at New Baneshwor, has seen a good rise in business and is now well-known in Nepal for online food delivery to meetings and seminars, offices, institutions, parties and catering services.
Supporting Start-up and SME Businesses
Immediately days after the successful event that promoted start-up culture in Nepal, here is another announcement for the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
In a move supporting small-scale businesses, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, proposed USD 15 million financial assistance to Nepal’s commercial bank Global IME Bank Ltd towards supporting Nepali SMEs.
This fund comes as a support to the Nepali bank as part of its lender’s program to support SMEs.
“This project is part of a concerted effort by IFC in the Nepalese financial sector to enable local banks to access long term USD resources,” read a disclosure statement pertaining to the proposal.
Through this fund, the bank plans to prioritize funding to SMEs under agriculture, tourism, micro-finance and small & cottage industries, supporting them in both daily business operations and capital expenditure.
Ranked fifth among the top commercial banks of Nepal, IME Bank has been covering a wide variety of other Nepali SMES such as IT, energy, automobiles, banking & insurance, infrastructure and logistics with wider presence across the nation.
IFC has proposed another USD 15 million investment in another local commercial bank adding to its support to the Nepali SME sector.
Medium-scale Entrepreneurs Key for Economy
Adding to the rising start-up and SME trend in Nepal in the recent times, here comes another statement highlighting the role of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs in strengthening the overall economy.
Speaking at the 15th anniversary of the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises of Nepal, former Prime Minister and Nepal Communist Party (CPN) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said small and medium-scale entrepreneurs form the base for Nepal’s economic development.
They are also key to promoting large-scale entrepreneurs, added Dahal.
Highlighting the need for getting benefited from the development of neighboring nations, he called on the federation and all the related stakeholders to join government in its mission for nation’s progress.
The federation is moving ahead with the slogan of ‘one home: one entrepreneurship’, said the Federation Chair Babu Kaji Maharjan.
In line with the ongoing support, let’s hope that more domestic push driven by large, medium and small-scale industries, entrepreneurs and SMEs, along with timely foreign investment and global support, supported by efficient governmental policies will create more business opportunities for the country contributing to the overall economy and country’s employment sector!