To establish an entrepreneur-friendly nation
Three ways to realize the vision:
1) Lobby at policy level for startup-friendly long-term policies.
2) Promote local entrepreneurs through technology and e-commerce.
3) Encourage national and international investment.
My ultimate vision is to see Nepal as a fair and equitable country where everyone can participate in nation-building. I believe making Nepal a safer place for entrepreneurs and investors could be one way to start this process.
When I started my business back in 2012, the concept of entrepreneurship in e-commerce was still new in Nepal and there were no proper regulations. Young people with innovative business ideas in the field were not encouraged to push ahead.
But, over time, the entrepreneurial spirit in our society has evolved and the governmental rules were tweaked accordingly. For example, before Tootle and Pathao, there were no laws governing ride-sharing services. Today, authorities are working on directives for ride-hailing apps. So Nepal is creating a better environment for entrepreneurs. But there is still a long way to go.
There are still many problems young people who want to establish startups face. Due to unclear rules and lack of coordination, they face unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. For instance, while registering a new business or requesting a business loan, aspiring entrepreneurs are often ignored. If we had startup-friendly policies, things would not have been so. A clear policy would set the guidelines for starting and operating startups and educate and inspire the country’s youth entrepreneurs.
Our policymakers are too slow in keeping up with global business trends. It was only in 2018 that they prepared the first draft of directives for e-commerce; the final draft is yet to come out and get endorsed by the parliament. The media features our concerns regularly, but we are a long way from addressing them.
Our authorities are not implementing far-sighted policies to encourage business and investment. In 2018, I met government officials on bringing FDI (foreign direct investment) for a business. The talks were positive and we were happy but, out of nowhere, the government issued the minimum FDI threshold of Rs 50 million. The decision hampered my business plans as well as of many others. If we continue to make such overnight changes in investment policies without prior discussion, no one will show an interest in investing here. So, Nepal needs a long-term and startup-friendly environment.
I don’t think domestic investment alone would suffice to achieve our desired economic growth. We should welcome international investors and show them our business potential. Foreign investors will benefit us in various ways. For one, young entrepreneurs like us can learn new ways of doing businesses.
Besides building an ideal investment environment, we must also decentralize entrepreneurship and e-commerce to other parts of Nepal. Even though we have adopted a federal system, the prevailing policies are mainly Kathmandu-centric. Decentralization would promote local businesses and resources, which would in turn help the country’s economy and help meet our broader vision of building a fair and equitable nation.
We should also not overlook the importance of technology for progress. Every business should make smart use of technology in order to thrive. This will develop both the digitization and startup industry. The covid pandemic also taught us the importance of digitization.
While the lack of a policy does not hamper our day-to-day work, it creates trouble in the long run or during periods of crisis. It was only after the demand for e-commerce services became high during the pandemic that the government started a proper discussion about the industry.
This is the right time to invite investment in Nepal with a large number of youths planning to set up startups. They are motivated by a small number of already established businesses. So, if we could empower them with funds and proper policies, youth entrepreneurship in Nepal will truly take off .
My team is keen on making this vision come true and UG Bazaar is already prioritizing and promoting local entrepreneurs, products, and resources, so that people earn wherever they are in the country. I am in the UK for my studies and here too I regularly attend seminars, and listen to and learn from participants. I also hold discussions with investors and explain the growth potential of Nepali market.
1. Have you ever been stereotyped as a female entrepreneur?
Fortunately, I have not. But for many other female entrepreneurs, their desire to open startups is questioned by their families and society. I have seen many of them struggle to find a space to set up an office. Landlords often doubt they can pay the rent. Then there are issues of respect and trust, even between co-founders.
2. Who inspires you the most?
The people I work with.
3. A quote you live by.
“If you treat the future as something definite, it makes sense to understand it in advance and to work to shape it. But if you expect an indefinite future ruled by randomness, you’ll give up on trying to master it.” —Peter Thiel