I have a question for you.
What is Nepal famous for? Give it a thought.
Let me guess the answer that you had in mind. Was it one of the following: mountains, Buddha, earthquake? If yes, congratulations! You are a patriot!
The purpose of this article is a different one. I will give you another reason to be a patriot- your fellow countrymen! Nepal has been through a lot of economic ups and downs but with the problems that so frequently occur, there are some genius heroes who come up with a solution and make the best out of the problem not only for themselves but for the country’s economy and the people. Who are these heroes? Well, they aren’t just limited to the comic books like Batman and Superman, they live a life like ours, eat dal bhat and are stuck in the traffic like we do- these heroes are our Nepali entrepreneurs.
I was first introduced to entrepreneurship when I was volunteering for Startup Weekend Kathmandu. Seeing young people come up with ideas and plans of changing the way things worked in Nepal was empowering. I got a chance to work with Rockstart Impact in late 2014 when they were selecting the 10 best entrepreneurs to help them grow through knowledge, expertise and an investment. The idea was new to the Nepali entrepreneurial ecosystem and exciting to the entrepreneurs applying. With two successful batches of the accelerator program, Rockstart Impact saw 20 ambitious entrepreneurs out of which 11 received Foreign Direct Investment totalling more than 2 million euros. And these companies are making it big- they are making serious impact in Nepal.
Let me introduce you to three visionary heroes in this episode.
Founder, Red Mud Coffee
Aashish often said, ‘I did not become successful overnight.’ Red Mud Coffee was the fourth business that he had put his hands on and he did not give up on trying. Today, Aashish runs 5 chains for Red Mud Coffee and aims at employing over 100 staff by 2019. The reason why Aashish started is to make young Nepali people who see a brighter future stay back in Nepal. How can he make them stay back? By giving them job opportunities- be it through employment at Red Mud Coffee or by buying coffee/vegetables that his store runs on from local farmers through fair trade.
Sunita Nemaphuki & Damber Khanal
Co-Founders, R&D Innovative Solutions
I have always looked up to this power couple as my heroes. Changing the way that vegetables are sold in Nepal, Sunita and Damber run Green Mart, a vegetable retail store in Kathmandu. The duo support close to 100 farmers through fair trade and teaches them the right way of farming along with providing them market linkages. Farmers who come under the R&D umbrella are paid 60 % of the retail price instead of the traditional 20 percent, by cutting out on the traditional middlemen.
Rajendra Bista, Ram Rijal & Rabindra Shrestha
Co-Founders, Bloom Nepal School
The co-founders of Bloom Nepal School all come from remote parts in Nepal and got an opportunity to study in Kathmandu and later to USA and Finland for their graduation. Reminiscing the days when one of the founders had to walk for two days to get to the closest bus stop from his rural home, the trio decided to bring a change to Nepal’s education system. Bloom Nepal School is an attempt to redefine the education landscape in Nepal by promoting interest based and value based education systems. “We built this school with the idea of making the country ‘bloom’ by providing quality education to children from even the poorest families,” he says. “We realized everyone has a passion. So let’s use that passion to create living experts who have a huge contribution to the development — and recovery — of Nepal.” shares Ram Rijal.