“It helped me to understand their business better.” “Invaluable to meet the entrepreneurs face-to-face.” “Very positive”. These are just some of the reactions we have received from international investors who visited Kathmandu during Demo Day Week last month.
In anticipation of Demo Day 2017, the final of Rockstart Impact, One to Watch offered partners and investors the unique opportunity to visit seven of the nine companies even before they presented their business pitches in Kathmandu on 9 March and in Amsterdam on 15 March.
Mush Nepal, Nepal Thopa Sinchai, Green Bamboo, Natural Resins, Chainlink Engineering, Rammed Earth Solutions, and Hesty Kiwi opened up their offices, farms, and warehouses to show potential investors their actual working environments.
“It is invaluable to meet entrepreneurs face-to-face and get a feel for their passion, personality and way of thinking,” says John Raabo, from Danish impact investment The Black Circus. “Experiencing firsthand the contextual reality of Nepal in which these entrepreneurs are working is also important to truly understand the individual business plans.”
For Bram Boogaerdt 't Hooft, Director Inclusive Impact Investments at Oxfam Novib, it was his first visit to Nepal. “What a fantastic country, I miss it! I had so much fun with the group and I really appreciated your support during our visit. I am very positive about the programme and the entrepreneurs you presented to us.”
The primary objective of the Demo Day Week program is to ensure that the partners and investors get a wholesome picture of the companies –not just their business plans and financial goals. The visitors were able to interact with the clients and employees of the companies and see first-hand the social and environmental impacts they create. The company visits are very insightful, says Marja Ruigrok, who has been coming to Nepal for several years now as a member of the Nepal Impact Investment Fund (NIIC). “It helped me to understand their business better and to ask the right questions.”
Of course the foreign visitors were also the first ones to hear the business pitches during Demo Day in Kathmandu. Besides the visits to the companies the program also included a short visit to the historic centre of Bhaktapur and a drive to Namo Buddha Resort. Bram Boogaerdt 't Hooft can only encourage more investors to visit Nepal instead of just meeting them at the Demo Day in Amsterdam. “It is better to fly investors to Nepal than to bring all entrepreneurs to the Netherlands. Try to bring in more investors next year.” You are all invited in 2018!