Encounter with Ayushi KC
(Ayushi KC, is the coordinator of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries Startup Campaign Committee, which has successfully concluded Nepal Startup Fest at Hotel Soaltee, Kathmandu on Saturday. The program provided startups with capital and technical support as well as investors with the opportunity to invest in outstanding projects. Here are excerpts from an encounter with Ayushi surrounding the recently concluded startup fest.)
TNW: What are the major challenges facing startups in Nepal ?
Ayushi: I think the main challenge facing startups in Nepal are financial resources and mentorship. There are many young people who have new and creative ideas and are desirous to venture new businesses and also there are people with capital, who are looking for investment opportunities. But the problem is that there is a gap between the two, they have not been able to find each other. So, first of all we have set up a committee with the title Nepal Startup Abhiyan. Under this we have organized the first Nepal titled Startup Fest. with a wider participation of people from different sectors. The committee was formed around October- November last year to prepare for the fest.
TNW: What types of people took part in the fest?
Ayushi: Our aim was to get maximum participation of the youth in the fest and we succeeded to achieve this. Besides the overwhelming presence of students and the youths, many academicians, legal experts, business entrepreneurs and those from banking sector also took part in the event.
TNW: Would you shed some light on the YEF (Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum) ?
Ayushi: In fact, its a youth wing of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI). People representing second and third generation of business community, who have been taking up responsibility of family business are mostly included in the YEF. We have around 50 young entrepreneur members associated with the organization.
TNW: As startup is a new concept for Nepal, will you elaborate about the startup in Nepalese context?
Ayushi: If you see globally or just look at what is happening in next door neighbour India, 50 percent of GDP contribution is being made by startups in the southern neighbour. In India, the startup’s valuation has reached US $ 300 billion at the moment. CHina is home to one of the biggest startup ecosystem in the world. Though Nepal lies between the two largest economies in the world, India and China, why haven’t startup flourished in our country? I think its a big question. We have to find out whether we lack bigger market, or ideas or policy drawback? Some people say that startup hasn’t flourished in Nepal because of our small geographical size. But in my opinion that’s not true. Startups need not be confined to the political boundary. Now, I think people have begun to understand the reality. Now we are witnessing that the scenario has changed in our country.
TNW: What are the major hurdles for the survival of startups?
Ayushi: Lack of capital is not the major problem for startup business to flourish. I think, mentorship is also the biggest challenge. To become an entrepreneur people need experience, they need proper training too.
TNW: What is your expectation from the government side?
Ayushi: We need some tax incentives for startups to grow. Tax holiday for certain period should also be arranged to encourage startups. In the recent past, the government had set up a scheme to provide loan up to Rs. 2.5 million for new entrepreneurs with just one percent interest rate. But that was postponed, and could not come into operation due to certain reason. You can imagine if the government provides Rs. 2.5 million loan with 1 percent interest rate it would be a great opportunity for startups. I advise the government to reinstate the idea for providing encouragement to the young entrepreneurs.
TNW: Would you shed light on the terms ‘incubator’ and business ‘ecosystem’ in our context?
Ayushi: Startup doesn’t’ exist in a vacuum. We need investors, mentors, and people with new and creative ideas, all of which make an ecosystem. We also need academic ideas and legal policies for a startup to flourish. We should train new entrepreneurs and provide mentorship. Media can also play a big role for the promotion of startup. It should also focus on business news and write stories about startups. Our media is still more concerned about the political happenings and trade and business are being neglected. Media should also address the ideas of the young people and focus on startups. In this way media can play a big role in developing a business ecosystem.