“A vibrant microenterprise ecosystem can be a major aspect of Nepal’s future economic development”

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Prof Kee-Seon Yoo, Dean, School of Management and Economics Director, Joint International Education Programme, Handong Global UniversityProf Kee-Seon Yoo
Dean, School of Management and Economics
Director, Joint International Education Programme, Handong Global University

Recent years have seen many discourses on microenterprises. Such discourses have been constructive in terms of identifying the role of microenterprises in the socioeconomic development of the developing countries. In the context of Nepal, microenterprises have been playing the role of drivers of the local economy. The importance of flourishing a viable ecosystem for such businesses was highlighted in the Micro Enterprise and Development in Nepal (MEDIN) Summit-2017 which was organised in November. The Summit was jointly organised by Handong Global University, South Korea and School of Management, Tribhuvan University (SOMTU) and was sponsored by the Ministry of Education of South Korea, UNESCO and UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking). Prof Kee-Seon Yoo, dean of the School of Management and Economics and director of Joint International Education Programme, Handong Global University was in Nepal for the summit. Prof Yoo is an expert with a deep insight in the microenterprise ecosystem. New Business Age caught up with Prof Yoo to talk about microenterprise development in South Korea, the ecosystem needed for the growth of microenterprises in Nepal, among others. Excerpts:

How is the microenterprise ecosystem in South Korea? 
The South Korean economic development strategy is quite unique compared to other countries. The economic development of our country was initiated by the government and industrialisation through the large conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG, among others. It is interesting to note that before industrialisation started in South Korea in the 1960s, almost over 90 percent of the companies there were microenterprises. Despite the fact that there are so many small and medium enterprises, we are still struggling to create a viable ecosystem to aid their growth.  In our country, microenterprises are looking for the support from large business entities as the importance of building strong relationship between big and small sized enterprises has already been identified. Our government has been trying to solve the problems being faced by the microenterprises through a cooperative and collaborative approach.

How can we create a vibrant ecosystem for microenterprises?
Microenterprises can contribute a lot to the economic development of Nepal. A vibrant microenterprise ecosystem can be among the major aspects of Nepal’s future economic development. For creating a vibrant ecosystem, not only the government but also the private sector, civil society and educational institutions should come together. Similarly, the government needs to formulate some policies to stimulate the growth of microenterprises. 

Similarly, the role of NGOs in Nepal can be important in this regard. The cooperation between the social sector and civil sector is crucial for developing the microenterprise ecosystem. But first the government needs to come forward with effective policies and plans and then probably the private sector, NGOs, INGOs and other stakeholders will step in. 

The main problem for microenterprises in the developing nations is to get the seed money for starting business. Similarly, a good level of know-how for the operation of business is also important. Social enterprises can also come forward for the development of microenterprises. 

Similarly, universities also have a role in developing a viable ecosystem for microenterprises. The introduction of the social innovation course by Tribhuvan University is very important and can be a turning point in this regard.

How can micro entrepreneurs have easy access to finance?
There are many ways such as crowdfunding and other alternative financing options available for startup entrepreneurs now-a-days. Similarly, large companies can also be encouraged to get engaged in mutually benefitting cooperation in terms of financial and other assistances to the microenterprises. 

For instance, there is a big telecommunications company in South Korea which supports the micro and social enterprises through its services. Such sustainable business model can also be practiced in Nepal. The government can also create funds to support microenterprises. Meanwhile, BFIs can also establish funds to support the microenterprises.

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