Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation along with its partners celebrated the Spirit of Entrepreneurship on December 19, 2014 at FNCCI, Teku as the final event of GEW 2014. The program felicitated the prominent and upcoming Nepali entrepreneurs from different sectors for their contribution to the society.
The program started at 11 am with the welcome note by Ms. Sarita Sapkota, Communication and Development Coordinator at Samriddhi. The moderator, Deependra Chaulagain, Director of Operations and Outreach gave an introduction on GEW and entrepreneurship in Nepal. The program continued with the “ Entrepreneurs’ Stories” where the videos of the entrepreneurs was played. The entrepreneurs were:
Laxmi Sharma from Laxmi Wood Craft Udhyog
Although initially known as the first female tempo driver of Nepal, Laxmi Sharma eventually ended up being an entrepreneur. Today she owns and runs ‘Laxmi Wood Craft Udhyog’, the premier exporter of quality buttons to fashion houses like Ralph Lauren and Zara among others. It was established in 1982 and primarily creates buttons made from bones and horns of animals, particularly that of buffaloes.Though her life sounds much like quintessential rags to riches story, she did not reach the peak without life-shaping struggles. Her products initially could not gain enough market and she recounts haranguing tales of physical abuse when having gone to collect fruits of her labor. The labor union and political instability disturbed her business greatly. She has run her business until date despite having to risk her life and property. She started her business with an investment of a mere Rs. 70,000 and 3 people and now has grown to over 375 employees, who constitute of highly skilled and semi-skilled craftsmen. She is also a member of the Global Compact. She began her business also as a means to help other women living in deplorable conditions and has come to the conclusion that the hardships of her life have well aided her in the business world.
Prem Lama from Ashapuri Organic Farm
Prem Lama recounts his tale as such: he contracted a terrible disease around the age of 50 caused by chemically infected food intake. He then resolved to eat only what he grew organically and the rest, as they say, is history. He initially only produced just enough food for himself but as he took the produce around to his friends and family, they expressed that they would be willing to pay for larger amounts of organic food that he had farmed. This is how he formally began Ashapuri Organic Farm in 2002, which promotes and markets organic food in the country and outside. It has since expanded to 9 districts and employs up to 500 people during peak harvest seasons.Because he had no formal training in agriculture, it did take him a while to steadfast himself in the market. He also believes that three things essentially aided his success: honestly, understanding labor incentives and giving back to the environment one works on. He believes that young Nepalese should not migrate abroad as opportunities in agriculture are ripe in the country and need to be exploited well for the nation to develop.
Nirjala Shrestha and Shanti Shrestha from Friends Handicrafts Nepal
Nirjala and Shanti are the proud owners of Friends Handicraft, which was established in the year 2002. They were college friends who wanted to come up with their own enterprise. So initially they came up with the idea of producing cotton and hemp hand bags with an investment of Rs. 6000/- and two sewing machines of their own. They struggled a lot for the early two years; working almost 18 hours a day and having to balance work and home life as married women with children. Their hard work paid off eventually and today they export their products to US (Walmart) and Germany among other countries. For the first three years, they did not take a single rupee from the company’s turnover and re-invested every penny. Gradually, things began falling into place as they found willing exporters and completely focused on the international market. They offer jobs to economically-deprived women and wish to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship among them. Out of 125 employees, only 2 of them are men. They talk of plans of creating a fund for their employees in the near future, which could be used as a withdrawal well when needed.
Chattra Hari Karki from Midas Technology
After returning from Australia in 2001, Chattra Hari Karki found that Nepal could be a breeding ground for technological start-ups. It has now been 15 years that he started Midas Technologies, which has exponentially exploded into other business ventures. He began with 10 computers and now employs over 150 people. He recounts how getting into enterprise development in Nepal is still seen as a secondary profession as his own father wanted him to land a ‘good’ job. He began with creating educational audio-visual software for schools and moved on to producing hospital administration software, which was initially met with contention. Today about 90 hospitals and 400 schools and colleges use this technology. Their education tools have now expanded into e-teaching kits for teachers.He believes that innovation in the market helps pump demand and thus automatically enhances supply. He rejoices the fact in being an entrepreneur; he is free to take his own creative decisions and constantly urges his own employees to get into start-ups.
The program continued with the remarks of Maheshwor Neupane, Acting Secretary, Ministry of Industry. He appreciated the efforts and contribution of the entrepreneurs. He shared his views on the entrepreneurship development in Nepal and pointed out that technology and skill of management is a challenge in Nepalese Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. He talked about the new program launched by Ministry of Industry to fund the startups who have innovative ideas. He announced the commitment of Ministry of Industry of supporting GEW 2015.
In Felicitation Ceremony, the entrepreneurs were felicitated with the Certification of Appreciation and Samriddhi Emblem. The interaction session was carried where the audience expressed their queries to the entrepreneurs. After the closing remarks, a group photo was taken and the refreshments were provided during which the informal interaction took place with the entrepreneurs.