Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO) and One to Watch (OTW) have signed a contract for a one year Capacity Development Program. The agreement will facilitate a grant provision to support OTW’s business development support services in Myanmar and Nepal, and also support the internal training program of its local staff.
Business Development Support Services in Myanmar
The fund in Myanmar will concentrate its activities in developing the agricultural value chain. This will be done via two categories of support. The first category will focus on providing basic support to the companies in the form of developing policies and setting up of internal reporting mechanisms. The second will provide entrepreneurs with customized support to streamline their business, develop growth strategies and governance policies, and perform market research. Business development support services will be provided to seven selected companies.
Business Development Support Services in Nepal
On the other hand, the fund in Nepal will focus on entrepreneurs and SMEs in the agriculture, logistics and tech sectors. While OTW Nepal will focus on sourcing companies from Kathmandu, which houses numerous innovative entrepreneurs and businesses that need access to capital to scale-up, companies based outside Kathmandu with immense growth potential will also be included.
After successfully running eight cohorts of business accelerator programs, OTW Nepal has identified some key gaps in the ecosystem that need to be addressed in order to provide optimal support to SMEs. Filling these gaps beyond the structured support provided by the business accelerator program will further aid companies in Nepal to grow and access growth capital. With this program, 15 companies will receive business development services, and 10 selected companies will further receive access to growth capital.
OTW Internal Team Training Program
One of the biggest challenges to establishing an investment fund in frontier markets is the presence a strong locally led investment management team; according to the GIIN survey, only 2 out of 10 impact funds work in frontier markets. To address this need, FMO has included a provision for an internal training program to build the capacity of OTW’s local staff in facilitating the flow of/disbursement of much needed FDI into local economies.
A training program designed specifically for the investment management teams will facilitate both external learning and internal knowledge sharing. The training program will focus on developing the financial, business management and communication skills of OTW
The Kathmandu-based agrotech company Kanjirowa Agro Farm obtains an investment of 220.000 Euro from the Nepal Impact Investment Community (NIIC). Director Sadhuram Singh Basnyat will use the capital injection to expand Kanjirowa’s production capacity in Nepal. “Our quality seedlings help farmers to increase their output by 30%.”
Faster than expected
“We are one of the first companies of this year’s accelerator programme to receive an investment,” says director Sadhuram Singh Basnyat with a big smile. He immediately attracted the interest of NIIC-members after he pitched his company in Kathmandu, Amsterdam and London this spring. “It all went faster than I expected,” laughs Sadhuram, who can now follow his dream to simplify the life of farmers in Nepal.
Expertise from Israel
Sadhuram, who comes from a farming background himself, started Kanjirowa in 2012 with two partners. “When I visited a number of greenhouses on the outer edges of Kathmandu, I realized that farmers who had returned from working in Israel had a remarkably better standard of living than other farmers, just because they were using slightly different farming methods. I decided to enroll for a training at the Centre of Excellence for Vegetables in Haryana, India, an Indo-Israeli initiative. They taught me how to improve the production of vegetables and fruits in every condition and weather.”
Back in Kathmandu, Sadhuram started growing tomatoes and set up a small scale seedling production unit with a small investment of his business partner. In 2017 Kanjirowa received a government grant of 50.000 dollars to set up a high tech greenhouse for seedling production. “This is the first facility of its kind in Nepal,” the entrepreneur says proudly. “We produce seedlings for 21 different varieties of fruits and vegetables such as tomato, capsicum & leafy vegetables. The seedlings have a uniformed growth with high yields and better adaptability to the environment.”
Kanjirowa now focuses on high-quality vegetable seedling production only. “In the traditional soil-based production process 40% of seeds are lost because they are contaminated by soil born diseases and do not germinate. The seeds that germinate, take over a week to grow into a seedling. At Kanjirowa, we have a soil-less high tech facility where we germinate all seeds within 24 hours. We produce in a controlled environment, which reduces the risk of diseases considerably. By doing so, we can provide disease-free, well-aged, uniform growth seedlings to Nepalese farmers.”
Sales via municipalities
Nepalese farmers are willing to pay a premium for Kanjirowa’s seedlings because they increasingly realize the value the company is offering. “We have currently sold to over 650 farmers, both in and outside of Kathmandu. We are currently in the process of engaging municipalities throughout the country to include our seedlings in their farmers support policies. 21 municipalities have already agreed to do so. This will be a serious boost for our sales. We already have orders for 150.000 dollars. So I am really glad that we have received an investment from NIIC: we need to expand our production capacity rapidly.”
staff. OTW will use our extensive network within the Asian and global impact investment community to maximize the return of each Euro spent on team development.