Rockstart Impact Nepal is no flash in the pan. After the successful pilot scheme last year, 10 Nepalese companies again participated in the accelerator programme in Kathmandu at the start of this year. Its founder, Oscar Kneppers (49), has big plans for Rockstart Impact: “There’s a good chance that in a few years’ time we’ll be running dozens of impact programmes around the world.”
“Tears come to my eyes” he said with a smile when he thinks back to the Rockstart Impact Demo Day last year in Amsterdam. The inspiring and moving personal pitches of the Nepalese entrepreneurs touched Kneppers’s business heart. “Running a business is hard slog but I know from my own experience that it’s the quickest way to freedom, independence and self-determination. It’s the main reason why I want to help others – whether it’s an App builder in Amsterdam or an architect in Nepal. It’s Rockstart’s raison d’etre.
More than anywhere else entrepreneurs in Nepal really needed Rockstart’s support, said Kneppers. “Soon after Demo Day, Nepal was badly hit by two earthquakes. It’s at times like these that you need entrepreneurs, people with vision, perseverance and discipline, people capable of getting things off the ground. So Rockstart Impact wasn’t only relevant, it was extremely urgent.”
The accelerator programme in Kathmandu did not differ so much from the Rockstart programme in Amsterdam. “We selected 10 Nepalese entrepreneurs and back in Kathmandu our mentors spent five months coaching them. We looked for businesses that are innovative in outlook, technology-driven and scalable in the local setting. After 100 days, entrepreneurs had to present their companies to investors as ‘investment-ready’. Of last year’s ten participants seven received investment, a total of more than 1.6 million euros.”
“Although Rockstart’s impact programme is less lucrative in the short-term, in the long- term it really contributes to the growth of the Amsterdam accelerator”, maintained Kneppers. “Rockstart does not derive any profit from a Nepalese company, but if the latter is successful it starts paying “tuition fees” retrospectively. Then you get a revolving fund; the successful alumni sponsor the programme for the next batch of entrepreneurs. In the long run, Rockstart Impact contributes to our international growth and our reputation. And we also score karma points!”