The pioneering years at One to Watch are over. The impact investment company is ready for growth, says emerging market investment expert Peter Tropper. We could not agree more!
While impact investing in emerging markets is hot, it is often not very successful. At One to Watch we have had our fair share of hurdles as well. However, after five challenging years, we can truly, and gladly, conclude that we have created a solid organization that is making successful investments in meaningful companies in Nepal.
It is not just our team, our supporters, and our growing group of enthusiastic impact investors who have come to realize that the pioneering phase is over. After his on-site review in Kathmandu last December, former IFC / World Bank Chief Investment Officer Peter Tropper came to the conclusion that “One to Watch should be considered as good material for a larger fund with a broad impact on the entrepreneurial space in Nepal.” In other words: One to Watch is ready for growth.
Tropper highlights the strong track record of One to Watch – thirteen investments, one exit and no losses – which he calls “unusual for a group this small” and he mentions that “the existing portfolio gives prospective investors a good view of team performance to date”. Further, Tropper notes that One to Watch is well-connected with the local community, has a strong mentor network, and Rockstart Impact as a key source of pipeline.
The success of our business model is based on three core elements. Firstly, the Rockstart accelerator programme, which is currently running for the third consecutive year. As the accelerator programme is making a name for itself in Nepal, we manage to attract increasingly interesting companies whose founders are willing to take time off and join the intensive programme. As a result the quality of our portfolio improves continually.
Secondly, our local investment management team. Many impact investors have trouble finding professional investment managers in the countries where they operate. Over the years we have struggled with this as well, but as our brand and reputation has been growing, we have been able to attract more, and better, talent that is eager to learn and take on new responsibilities. Investment manager Sunayna Tamrakar, who left her job at one of Nepal’s most esteemed conglomerates to join One to Watch, is probably the best example.
Thirdly, the NIIC fund. Just as Nepalese entrepreneurs are not used to attract equity investments, most foreign investors have no experience with investing in emerging economies like Nepal. With the dedicated NIIC fund, we have found a way to make investing in Nepalese SME’s accessible and comfortable for foreign investors. NIIC has attracted 1 million Euro in 2016 and aims to double in size in 2017. With more investors, and more investments, we can further improve the quality of the fund and increase our impact in Nepal.
Interested? Learn more about investing in Nepal here or join us at one of our events in Kathmandu or Amsterdam!