By– Sanne Snieder, program director Rockstart Impact
In an unexpected part of the world, tucked away between two giant emerging economies, another type of ‘Valley’ is found where entrepreneurship flourishes: Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. A buzzing capital in the mountains, full of people who aim to make a difference. Today Rockstart Impact kicks off in the capital city of Nepal. Our aim is to help ten inspiring local entrepreneurs make their companies investment-ready in 100 days, so they can make a big impact on a larger scale. Program director Sanne Snieder (4th from the left in the team photo) explains what we’re up to in Nepal in the next 100 days:
Getting ready for the program
These 100 days are what we have been working towards for the past couple of months. Since I arrived in Kathmandu last month to prepare the program with One to Watch, the initiator of Rockstart Impact Nepal, we’ve been working hard to select the 10 final participants from a large number of applications. We’ve selected those that we think can really make a large impact here in Nepal. 30 Nepali mentors will be involved in the program from the start today, and our Dutch mentors will arrive in Nepal next week as well. We can’t wait to get started and help the participants make an impact through the program. The 10 entrepreneurs that were selected to participate in the program will be introduced on the Rockstart blog in the next couple of weeks.
Making an impact in Nepal
By learning how to scale their businesses, entrepreneurs will be able to provide their communities with real value and make a significant economical impact in the country. A local dairy farmer who is looking for 100.000 dollars in investment to scale his enterprise could potentially provide 50 families with a better income. An entrepreneur that develops vaccines against chicken diseases can help feed a child in the future. That’s real impact. These are the types of developments that Rockstart Impact strives to accelerate.
Startups and growing companies in Nepal are in many ways no different from startups in other parts of the world: they are ambitious, convinced about their own product and they deal with the same uncertainty when starting their company. The difference lies in the fact that Nepali face an extra bumpy road when starting a business. If you’re not from a wealthy family, finding the right people to provide you with the right knowledge and expertise is difficult, and venture capital is hard to come by. A solution is found in foreign investors, and fortunately there are enough investors that not only demand financial returns, but also aim to make a social impact through their investments.
Entrepreneurs and investors often do not speak the same ‘language’ and without the right information and preparation potentially valuable connections tend to get lost. So you can imagine the bridge Nepali entrepreneurs have to cross to Dutch investors. Rockstart Impact connects these two worlds, by strengthening and structuring the entrepreneurs’ ideas and dreams and provide a predictable planning and insight for the investors. Writing a solid business plan and implementing good accounting and governance systems are therefore at the core of the program.
My Nepali colleagues did a fantastic job getting the word about our program out. Rockstart is already a name that resonates here in Kathmandu. It’s new and exciting, and people want to be part of it. All with the shared ambition to make social impact and build a better entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal. Although initiatives as Startup Weekend have also reached Nepal, Rockstart Impact is the first accelerator program that is organized here. We are eager to make a difference by giving these ambitious entrepreneurs access to our international Rockstart network and get them ready for foreign impact investment.