It is clear that Nepal needs to resort to sustainable alternatives. One of them is entrepreneurship.
--BY SHRADHA PAL
At one point, global warming was considered a conspiracy theory, now the stark reality is evident all over the world with untimely monsoons, natural calamities, species extinction and the list goes on. This, however, is the tip of the iceberg. Why? Because to feed and fuel our 21st century lifestyles, we are overusing the earth’s biocapacity by at least 56 percent and wildlife population has declined by 68 percent on a global average in the last 50 years as confirmed by the Living Planet Index 2020. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Covid-19 has grasped the whole world. This, however, is not an attempt to sow panic, but to show the picture of what could be and what is.
Here is an example to give the effect a numeric value. In 2019 remittance Every time any natural/health disaster strikes there is a socio-economic repercussion. The Covid-19 pandemic is the recent and blaring example of this. contributed 26 percent to Nepal’s GDP, whereas now it is less than one per cent leaving thousands jobless. This was within three months from the first lockdown.
Thus, it is clear that Nepal needs to resort to sustainable alternatives. One of them is entrepreneurship. No, it is not about business. These are two different approaches. Entrepreneurship endeavour is not capitalistic in nature. Its existence is to solve persisting problems in the society, as entrepreneurs know their community the best, and this can take on the form of a social enterprise. Moreover, according to a Nepal Rastra Bank study in 2017-18, SMEs created 2.36 million jobs and contributed 22 percent to the country’s GDP. Another vital segment to create sustainability is entrepreneurship among youths. Due to longevity they can invest their time to make a social impact, they are the change makers who will support to formulate favourable policies to uplift entrepreneurship.
A contemporary model example is a village in Amaltari, Chitwan. This was possible through investing to bring a homogenous society that has heterogeneous layers of belief, faith, reasoning, motive, logic et cetera together to create a sustainable community. Wildlife home stay was a strategic step with the focus on green enterprise. This created interdependence and income flow that ultimately resulted in creating a ripple effect through health care, formalising informal work availing social protection, education and awareness. This was achieved with a meaningful partnership between the central and local government, and the community. Tourism being one of the most affected sectors, due to the pandemic, this village was not exceptional. Nonetheless, sustainable kitchen garden and the health clinic continue to function. According to Dr Ghana Shyam Gurung, Country Representative of WWF Nepal, “They are self-sustained, thus they are doing well.” This is what the organisation invests in.
Socio-economic sustainability is possible through interdependence, in another word — collaboration. The right partnership would lead Nepal to development through innovation and entrepreneurship. The true meaning of these words is taking matters in your hands when all you see around are problems. For a country like Nepal they are in abundance. Instead of complaining entrepreneurs should take action. But who will invest (knowledge, time, money) in them? While exploring this question World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal came across Idea Studio Nepal’s (ISN) work. Thus, began the perfect partnership.
“Our organisation is dedicated to nature, conservation and people. We cannot reach everywhere thus we need a partner. We thought ISN would be the best partner to develop enterprises. Three pillars were essential – a) substantial investment is essential that is possible with links to commercial financial institution, b) well planned process to take action, there is academic strength to understanding the entrepreneurship but also documenting the learning, and c) wide outreach to people from diverse sectors who are motivated and mentored. This will lead to sustainability and growth and all this can be documented,” again, according to Dr Gurung.
There is ample competition, but collaboration is rare. Adding value to the companies or organisations leads to development. Along with this there is also a rigorous process involved to support the entrepreneurs. They can apply from any part of Nepal, as long as their ideas have social impact and are innovative. From more than 400 ideas the process of shortlisting to the top 33 is methodical. Four top ideas will get seed investment of Rs 500,000 each. Those who don't get the seed investment are equally supported with constant mentoring and backstopping support. With the foundation laid for the ecosystem, now gradually the stakeholders are reaping the benefit. If this is not a step to sustainability, what is?