Entrepreneurship Ecosystem-Kathmandu

With 1 million people, Kathmandu is better known for its history, Hindu temples, and the Himalayas. In recent years, however, the city has also become a budding birthplace for startups thanks to an expanding network of support services for entrepreneurs.

Challenges and Opportunities

In July of 2018, we joined 45 Kathmandu ecosystem builders to discuss challenges facing entrepreneurs and how to accelerate connectivity of local resources and support.

One challenge facing Nepal is that, according to the World Bank, 28% of the nation’s GDP comes from remittances, or money sent home by Nepalese men and women working abroad. With the 2018/2019 unemployment rate reported at 11.4%, Nepal’s people continue to look for good paying jobs outside of their country.

On the other hand, an astounding 60% of Nepal’s population is under the age of 30 (yes 30), with the Nepal Population Pyramid-2018average age being 23 years! Compare that to the United States where the average age is 37. This rising, younger generation has the potential to shift the Nepalese economy from one of sending workers abroad, to job creation at home.

A local Kathmandu ecosystem builder agrees, “If we could make them economically strong, then I think they would stay in their own communities and serve their communities. Do something in their communities, not only for them to work, but they would create jobs for others to work.”

Ecosystem Update

In May 2019, we returned to Kathmandu to check-in with local ecosystem builders and deliver additional training. Over the course of 4 days, we equipped 55+ students with the Disciplined Entrepreneurship: MIT Systematic Approach to a Successful Startup, and Entrepreneurship Operations: How to Grow & Scale a Successful Business. From speaking with local ecosystem builders, it is encouraging to see Kathmandu emerging as a hub for entrepreneurship.

Evidence of this comes from the growing number of organizations forming or putting down roots in Nepal who are focused on advancing entrepreneurism and supporting local startups.

Investment groups providing startup and growth capital include (in no particular order):

  • Nepal-based CG Corp. Global launched a $100 million venture capital fund for investing in pre-series A deals of approx. $2-3M, focused on  tech-enabled companies in sectors such as hospitality, consumer, financial services, rural product and services.
  • Dolma Impact Fund: A fund designed to generate sustainable private sector employment and stimulate further Foreign Direct Investment into Nepal. Dolma invests as a strategic partner, sharing risk with entrepreneurs and promoters, while building positive social and environmental impact into the core of investee company strategies.
  • Business Oxygen: Helps Entrepreneurs running Small to Medium Enterprises scale up their operations by injecting equity and providing technical assistance.
  • One to Watch: Invests in and supports entrepreneurs in the missing middle who are actively solving problems and creating jobs for local people. Offers the Enterprise: 12-week mentorship-based accelerator.
  • True North Associates: A private equity and venture capital company contributing to entrepreneurial and economic development in Nepal by helping businesses become more structured, marketable, profitable, and sustainable. Helped to launch Foodmandu, Nepal’s premiere food delivery service.
  • Everest Equity: A private equity company and a sponsor fund for Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds in Nepal also running the Everest Energy Impact Fund.
  • Kriti Capital and Investments: One of the pioneer investment banking and investment management service providers of Nepal. Kriti Capital promotes entrepreneurial initiatives and fosters institutional development by making necessary capital available to committed and dynamic entrepreneurs.
  • Brihat Investments: A real estate group in nepal partnering for the success of entrepreneurship, Comprised of 6 companies covering the vast horizon of the real estate sector, they are the “one stop realty shop.”
  • SAFAL Partners: helps improve operations and speed up sustainable growth of young companies and start-ups.
  • NEXT Venture Corp: A Nepali launch pad for entrepreneurs, providing all manner of solutions for startups, and businesses in various stages of growth.

Local organizations creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurs include (again, in no particular order):

  • Cloud Factory, headquartered in Kathmandu, is the 3rd largest employer in Nepal and and serves a global market through cloud based services.
  • Entrepreneurs For Nepal: A growing network of tens of thousands of young, creative entrepreneurs, who have ideas and want to implement it in Nepal. Co-founded by Ujwal Thapa, Ashutosh Tiwari, and Sagar Onta, the E4N team helps speed up the chances of success by credibly connecting entrepreneurs to success.
  • Nepal Communitere: An open and inclusive innovation hub and vibrant community resource center for bold innovators and creative changemakers. Makerspace, training lab, and business incubation services to help people turn their brilliant ideas into reality.
  • Nepal Entrepreneurs Hub: A network dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship, supporting startup communities, and contributing towards a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal. Organizers of Kathmandu Startup Week and Spark Talk Series, meetups and many mentoring and coaching sessions. NEHUB will explore collaboration within Nepal and abroad with agencies and organizations that seek similar stimulation and growth of entrepreneurship in any way possible.
  • Young Nepalese Entrepreneurs Forum: A membership based non-profit, founded by  founded by Upsana Shrestha, aimed at creating outstanding entrepreneurs through idea exchange, fellowships, education, training and advocacy among the Nepali youth.
  • Idea Studio: A platform to turn promising ideas into solutions and ultimately ignite social change and unlock potential in favor of entrepreneurship through innovation. A shortlist of innovation ideas from around Nepal ares shortlisted and mentored by renowned business leaders at Nepal’s business incubator, KUSOM-Idea Studio, on the premise of Kathmandu University School of Management. The best ideas are then showcased on primetime National Television in the form of a reality show, where business leaders and investors interested in the ideas, partner and invest with innovators to put sustainable solutions in place.
  • Business Mentoring Group: Katherine Mah of Kornerstone Training, leads a Business Mentoring Group meeting on a bi-monthly basis to encourage and support emerging entrepreneurs.

And there’s more groups that we will continue to add to this list. As Kathmandu’s entrepreneurs set out to launch new businesses, it’s imperative that ongoing needs be identified, resources connected, and collaboration continue so that companies have improved odds of succeeding to five years, and beyond.

Here are just some of the needs that have been identified within the local Kathmandu ecosystem:

  • Capacity building for entrepreneurs, coaches, and investors
  • Entrepreneurship ecosystem infrastructure, beginning with public support and moving to private support
  • Organization and syndication of a local Angel Investor Network
  • Identification and development of investable grade companies

Do you want to get involved in what’s happening in the Kathmandu ecosystem? If so, we encourage you to visit the links above or email us and we’ll help you get in touch with local leaders.

Mike McCausland-Founder-CEO

Mike McCausland

Founder and CEO, Leadership Institute For Entrepreneurs