One to Watch launched a renewed accelerator program for entrepreneurs in Nepal during a launch event last week in Kathmandu. Based on 4 years of experience One to Watch developed an accelerator called Enterprise.
The move is one of the outcomes of the partnership between One to Watch and investment management company True North Associates (TNA). TNA, that acquired a substantial stake in One to Watch earlier this year, has already been running an accelerator for the last three years under the name of Enterprise. “We will use key elements of both the Rockstart Impact and the‘old’ Enterprise accelerators,” says Amod Rajbhandari, Director of Accelerator and Entrepreneurship Development at One to Watch. Mr. Rajbhandari, who comes from TNA, will be in charge of the new accelerator program.
The biggest difference with Rockstart Impact is that Enterprise will focus more on commercially viable companies. Rajbhandari: “We believe that it is more effective to help a company with a good business model to increase its social and environmental impact than the other way around. If a social business does not have a strong business model its impact won’t last long.” The participation fee of 2.500 dollars is also new. “We feel that we need to do so in order to get really committed entrepreneurs on board. We want eager entrepreneurs that will show up at all workshops, every time. The fee will make sourcing the right companies easier.”
Otherwise much will remain the same. Enterprise will organize a mentor week in December where both seasoned Nepali entrepreneurs (who will be mentoring the companies) and foreign mentors will share their experiences and perspectives with the selected companies. Robert van Dortmond, who has been heading the group of international mentors of Rockstart Impact in the past, will be closely involved with Enterprise as well. After the 12-week program, Enterprise will also organize three Demo Days: in Kathmandu, Amsterdam and London.
Rajbhandari has already set up the permanent Pre-Investment Team in Nepal, which will be in charge of Enterprise and entrepreneurial development programs under One to Watch. “We have lost quite a bit of knowledge in the past as a result of employees moving in and out of Nepal. We have now built a committed Nepali team that, apart from Enterprise, will organize boot-camps, startup days, and other ecosystem-related activities.”
All in all, Enterprise fits in the ambition of One to Watch to support the responsible leaders of Nepal: entrepreneurs. “We need leaders who create better products and services in Nepal itself,” says Rajbhandari. “We are still very dependent on imports, even for basic food products. And we are supposed to be an agrarian society! If we can empower innovative entrepreneurs who create products and services in Nepal, we will inherently make a lot of impact.”