‘Did you know that the import to export ratio in Nepal is 10:1?’ Dipesh Khetan, founder of Natural Resins shares. ‘I finished my MBA in 2014 and since then, in spite of the heavy business family background that followed me, my heart was not into the thought limiting myself just to trading. I did a small study about forest based products in Nepal and that made me feel like I could and more importantly- should start something in the forest industry. Why? Because it is very helpful for the country in terms of economic and human development through the usage of natural resources, local labourers and if the product is exported it doubled the impact.’
Natural Resins is a manufacturer of Gum Rosin and Turpentine oil based in the far western region of Nepal. The product is extracted from Pine trees called Resins which is then processed to make Gum Rosin and Turpentine oil. 98 percent of the Gum Rosin and Turpentine oil is exported to India. Gum Rosin is extensively used in various applications by several industries like Rubber, Paper , Paint, Adhesive, Food, Electric, and Allied, etc. Gum Rosin can be used as a glazing agent in medicines and chewing gum. In Pharmaceuticals, Gum Rosin functions as an ingredient in several plasters and ointments. Global uses premium Oleo Pine Resin in the customization of Gum Rosin. The turpentine source of materials for organic synthesis such as solvent, source of organic compounds, medicinal elixir, etc.
I was never aware of an industry such as Natural Resins operating in Nepal. Inquisitively, I ask, ‘How does your company function?’ Dipesh responds, ‘With an employee base of almost 200 and presence in 6 districts in Nepal, what I do may sound very simple – but is one of the most difficult businesses to run in Nepal. We pay royalty to community forests and my staff make a cut on the tree every week for 32 weeks – which makes it a seasonal 8-month business. We collect the resins for 8 months and the collection process does not harm the trees and in return gives employment opportunities to 50 people per forest. At this rate, if we are able to expand to 20 forests, you have the numbers in front of you! With the amount people earn from our business, they have started buying donkeys and tractors in the areas where we work in and saw the opportunity to invest on a vehicle – so we are also expanding in terms of indirect entrepreneurs.’
With an aim of hitting the target of 700 employees by the end of 2020, Dipesh comments on the Human Resource policy at Natural Resins, ‘If I had a company in Kathmandu, we would have had hardships because of labourers but because there is limited to no work opportunities available in the mountains it makes them happy to work for us. On an average, an employee at Natural Resins earns between NRs. 12,000 to 15,000 per month. We do everything possible from our end to prevent brain drain so that people do not have to fly overseas to hunt for a job opportunity.’
Natural Resins has plans to introduce charcoals and briquettes made out of pine cones once they land an investment through Rockstart Impact, a 100-day business support program that he is enrolled in. One of the 10 companies for the third batch of Rockstart Impact, Dipesh hopes to scale his business through the network, investment, and aims at making a direct impact in Nepal.
First published in The Himalayan Times on 18.12.2016