“Better access to financial resources, especially to SMEs and startups,” says Watsal Rajbhandari, Co-founder and CEO of Dochaa

Watsal Rajbhandari, 29 is an entrepreneur with nearly 10 years of experience in both social and business enterprises and a drive to establish something impactful, sustainable, and worthwhile. Currently, he is the Co-founder and CEO of Dochaa, an impact driven-for-profit handmade shoes and lifestyle company that infuses the culture, color, and vibe of Nepal in contemporary shoes and accessories manufacturing. He is also the Managing Partner/ Business Development Director at Mirana Global, which provides global trading solutions for customers and businesses through reliable channels to fulfill their business needs. His skill set includes product manufacturing, business development, international trade and business, logistics, and procurement management. Outside of work, he loves traveling, art exhibitions, bike rides, and basketball. He is also an avid podcast listener. 

About Dochaa 

Inspired by the first type of shoe made by the indigenous people in the Indo-Tibetan belt, Dochaa is a Nepali handmade footwear and accessories brand that was launched in 2017. Committed to preserving and promoting the rich heritage and culture of Nepal, Dochaa uses local fabrics to manufacture its products. Dhaka fabric from eastern Nepal, Syama fabric with different colors and linings from Tamang indigenous communities in Nepal and Lawa fabric popular in the Newar indigenous community in Nepal are the materials used to create Dochha shoes. With a vision to be a global brand that promotes fair labor practices, Dochha supports local artisans and craftspeople.

Here’s what Watsal Rajbhandari says about improving the startup ecosystem in Nepal:

1. What do you think is one of the most required policy changes in Nepal from the perspective of promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal?

  •  In terms of policy changes, to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem within the country there has to be better access to financial resources especially to SMEs and startups. Banking sector should be more lenient in providing loans, subsidies and SEBON should give more licenses to the investment firms which work towards equity financing. Similarly, NRB should work better to regulate and accommodate better debt financing policies. Moreover, the five crore ceiling for foreign investment should be revised to cater to SMEs and startups. Additionally, the investors, be it firms or angel investors should promote investment on potential value rather than the book value at least for the seed round or first round of investment.

2. What impact will such policy change yield for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal? 

  • Better access to finance will benefit the whole economy as SMEs are considered to be the backbone for any economy. This will foster more SMEs, startups and industries. More licenses from SEBON for VC firms directly helps our nascent ecosystem and boosts up efficiency and interest in entrepreneurship resulting in more innovation. Furthermore, by not limiting the minimum FDI of 5 crore, there will be more opportunities for home grown startups and most of the industries will be facilitated. This can result in opportunities for export and consequently, rise in GDP. The entrepreneurs in the rural areas will have better resources from subsidies and government aid. Indirectly, there will be an exposure to the international market, making Nepal a hub for international investment and businesses.

As a part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021, Samriddhi Foundation asked Nepali entrepreneurs what they think is the most pressing policy change to promote the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal. In this series, Samriddhi Foundation will feature two entrepreneurs a day through the #GEW2021 week, starting from November 8 to November 14, 2021.