November 25: Leading entrepreneurs, policymakers and business experts have underlined the need for government’s support to startups for their promotion and growth.
Speaking at a panel discussion entitled “Search for Nepal Unicorn: Success and Challenges” during the “Kumari Bank NewBiz Startup Summit & Awards 2021”, they said that the government should come up with legislations, rules, regulations and policies that not only make it easier to start businesses but also facilities them to flourish and grow.
Juna Mathema, co-chairperson of the Women Entrepreneurship Development Committee of the FNCCI, said that startups require special treatment and special legal provisions for their growth. “To search and promote a Nepali unicorn, legal provisions should meet the requirements of the market. Firstly, we lack a definition for startup. All entrepreneurs are looked upon with the same perspective,” said Mathema.
“We should have a national vision on entrepreneurship and develop a roadmap for its execution with startup-friendly initiatives, facilities, education and awareness if we want to see a unicorn in Nepal,” she said.
Sharing about the growth of Hamro Patro, Ashraya Dixit, manager of operations at Hamro Patro Inc, said that his startup aspires to become a unicorn. He also said that they plan to transform Hamro Patro into an integrated platform of news, financial services and health services, among others.
“I think that’s how we’re going to tackle this industry and bring in technological disruptions and digital transformations. We’re going hope that there is going to be enough young people that are going to bind this and enough people in government who care about these outcomes like you guys run well help you out,” said Dixit.
Also speaking at the panel discussion, Kewal Prasad Bhandari, member secretary at the National Planning Commission, said that the government has been providing various incentives and facilities to promote startups in the country.
“We have offered an income tax waiver for startups for five years. The budget has a provision providing a tax deduction for corporate houses for their investments in startups for the income tax purpose. Yes, they are not adequate,” he said. “The government should not do the business, it should be left to the private sector. We have to facilitate entrepreneurs and startups by creating a favorable environment for them to flourish and grow,” he added.
Prior to the panel discussion, Lino Ahlering, MD of Daraz Nepal (Alibaba Group), and Anjani Phuyal, Global CTO of Genese Solutions, shared their international experiences.
Daraz Nepal’s MD Ahlering said that the startup scene in Nepal is growing but not picking up pace as much as it should. He pointed out the lack of easier and favorable FDI regulations that have become a major hurdle in attracting new investment for businesses in Nepal.
“Daraz, being a big company, doesn't always have it easy to invest into the country. There are entrepreneurs with excellent ideas and a market is there but the investment is missing so investors should be provided with easier FDI regulations and incentives to invest in,” he said.
Anjani Phuyal, Global CTO at Genese Solution, echoed Daraz Nepal’s Managing Director Lino Ahlering in terms of the government’s threshold on foreign direct investment. Phuyal said that the threshold should be lowered as foreign investors may not come to Nepal to support startups with such a high threshold.
Nepal can become a destination where startups from Silicon Valley and other countries operate here, according to Anjani Phuyal, Global CTO at Genese Solution provided that the country prioritizes digitization to attract global companies and investors to the country while universities should adopt the latest curriculum including Cloud, AI/ML, Big Data and Digital Marketing.
The panel discussion was moderated by Suman Shakya, an entrepreneur, consultant and a certified trainer.
Shakya has been involved in multiple entrepreneurial ventures and as an adjunct faculty of marketing and strategy. He asked questions that covered problems of startup enterprise, roles of banking institutions, policies to grow them.
According to Shakya, the government is yet to define a startup in Nepal. “We are in search of unicorns. We need to have a vision to create a unicorn in Nepal. Once a Nepali company becomes a unicorn, there will be cascading effects here in the country,” said Shakya. “When we work in the business, SMEs or startup sector, we always have a perception that the government is not supporting us or there are so many bottlenecks. But, the story of other side does not come out. There are also so many good things that the government has been doing. May be it’s that people do not know about those initiatives,” he said.
The government in preparing a working procedure which may define what a startup is, he said, summing up the opinions of panelists who called for a change in the government approach that looks all startups from the same lens.