Betting on Bamboo

Invest in an industry that is a great alternative to wood

 

‘Manufacturing has always been my passion which directed me toward a specialization (a MSc degree specializing in Design and Manufacturing, coupled with a MBA) and after a decade of working in the same industry, I am glad that I am doing that I truly believe in. Even though I am an entrepreneur still struggling to make it big, I aim high and hope that I will be able to overcome the challenges of the manufacturing industry in Nepal. We lack competitive advantages, sandwiched between the two giant manufacturing hubs of China and India,’ shares Pranab Pradhan, founder at Green Bamboo Creation (GBC). GBC manufactured and sells bamboo furniture and products made out of bamboo and wood composite, as per client needs. It aims to replace wood with bamboo for furniture, interior, and exterior decorative products.

Pranab aspires to make GBC a global standard bamboo furniture manufacturing company based in Nepal that would be known for innovative design, scalable manufacturing process with maximum productivity, and strict quality control. He feels that the ground work that the industry needs to build upon already exists. Huge potential exists because of the local availability of raw material. However, the industry suffers from lack of proper utilization of the same. Whilst establishing the company Pranab thought hard and differently to break out of the existing challenges and seek alternate routes to success, like a true entrepreneur. ‘70% of the country still relies on agriculture and bamboo is abundant. It has the potential to become an important cash crop providing livelihood to farmers in villages. An industry with competent manufacturing processes, and awareness about bamboo as an alternative to wood, and government support to market Nepal-made bamboo products globally can spur investment and entrepreneurship in this sector.’

One of the biggest challenges that Pranab faces is to convince customers to use bamboo as an alternative to wood. ‘I understand that customers want to invest in furniture that looks and feels solid, heavy and has a proven track record of durability – wood. However, where I see scope is that wood is becoming scarcer and will continue to be – that trend cannot be reversed. The market overseas, and increasingly in Nepal, will be fueled by alternatives to wood, composite materials that look like wood, but not the original material. Our pitch is grow a local industry that relies on a locally-available material that is durable, lightweight and hence easy to refurbish and move around as per need, and ecologically friendly and sustainable. At the moment we are the only Nepali company that engages in large-scale manufacturing of bamboo furniture, and all products are termite-free and dimensionally stable.’

Pranab is a firm believer in networking. ‘From the beginning of our journey till date we have been bale to build and sell through the network that we have built. Startups such as ours cannot afford to advertise. Our consumers are the only publicity that we have currently. However, we are sure we can grow further to increase awareness about our products and bamboo in general. And that is exactly where Accelerators such as Rockstart Impact acts as a boon. I am so very hopeful that this 100-day program is going to spur growth for us and the industry. Already the program has helped us in taking a pivot on our business and made us realize our strength – the pivot was to concentrate more on bamboo furniture, especially outdoor furniture. We got quality one-on-one mentorship with our Dutch mentors who helped us simplify things and think differently. Our regular meetings with the local mentors and guests have given us so many professional perspectives that we did not think was important. We are going through a transformative process it seems, and the greatest outcome of this program has been to understand our business better.’

Pranab hopes that the growth that they have had will be amplified with additional investment which would allow GBC to add machines and better infrastructure for scale and productivity. He is hopeful that local and international investors will see the potential in the bamboo industry in Nepal for excellent ROI and in helping create an eco-friendly furniture industry.

First published in The Himalayan Times

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