“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world,” said Harriet Tubman, an American civil rights activist. Alisha Shrestha, founder of Amnil Technologies Pvt Ltd also believes that passion is very important to become successful in what an individual is doing. She thinks that various factors drive people to work passionately and become successful.
“Some are driven by their interest, some by money and knowledge which makes them work for long hours and gain satisfaction even during sleepless nights,” she expresses. "However, blind passion does not lead to anywhere and one should be analytical enough to succeed in business."
Alisha was driven by her interest in information technology (IT). She and her two friends (who are now partners in the company) self-learned and did some few freelancing projects while in college. “We knew we wanted to start something of our own while being involved in different projects, participating in college IT clubs, and other extracurricular activities,” she says. But they decided to start their own business only after working in different companies and gaining some experience. After completing the Bachelor of Business Information System (BBIS) programme from Kathmandu College of Management, she started working at an IT firm. After working for around one and half years, she and her friends started their company Amnil Technologies in 2008. “We registered the company and used to only work during weekends and at night. We started working in a full-fledged manner only from 2009,” she informs.
Amnil Technologies is a software development company. Unlike most IT firms that focuses on a product or a project, Alisha says that they are more like a boutique company that customises products as per the demands of the client. According to the need of the clients, they work on any kind of technology and make custom application software.
They have a theatre application called AMTIX which they claim is the first of its kind for theatre ticketing systems in Nepal. QFX Cinemas, FCube Cinemas and other multiplexes have been using the company's software. Be it a classic single-screen theatre or an ultra-modern multiplex, this software can be custom-tailored to suit the requirements of any business.
Likewise, Amnil Technologies also has pharmaceutical software which is used by some top domestic pharmaceutical companies. Besides, they have also been developing websites and software for many commercial banks and telcos like NCell.
Alisha informs that the company also has outsourced projects from countries including Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. “30 percent of the work that we do is outsourced and the rest 70 percent is for the Nepali market,” she adds.
A native of Lalitpur, Alisha has an elder sister and younger brother. She says that all her siblings received equal treatment in terms of education and opportunities. She also didn’t face any such difficulties in her business as well. Nevertheless, people generally are sceptical about women in the field of technology and she also faced this challenge in the initial days. “Clients didn’t use to trust women in business dealings,” she says, adding, “But their mindset changed after seeing our work." According to Alisha, women in tech now have greater acceptance than over a decade ago. "Despite this, the participation of women in tech is comparatively low in Nepal," she expresses.
Initially, she and her partners started the business from scratch. They collected a total of Rs 30,000, set up an office at Manbhawan, bought some important items like tables, chairs and a printer from the money. They purchased computers in installments.
Currently, there are around 100 technical and non-technical staff working for the company. Until three years ago, they had a team comprising of 30 to 35 individuals. “Initially, we were dependent on outsourced projects as there was not much demand in the Nepali market,” she says.
However, the domestic demand has surged over the past decade, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of technology. "Particularly, after the start of the pandemic, people have become much aware of the need to have things online, applications, and be digitally enabled,” she mentions. Apart from Amnil Technologies, she is also a co-founder of ItoB Asia, a digital marketing agency, and one of the shareholders of the startup company ePharmacy.
Alisha is also engaged in different business associations. She is Executive Member of the SAARC Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs Council and General Member of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (FWEAN). She says that there have been a lot of changes in women entrepreneurship in Nepal compared to a decade ago. “The perspective of people towards women in business has changed positively. Many used to think that women entrepreneurs are only confined to cottage industries. But women entrepreneurs now are doing very well in running big businesses demonstrating efficient leadership qualities," she states.
A mother of a six-year-old daughter, Alisha finds it a struggle at times to maintain a good level of work-life balance. In 2020, she took a break from work for about eight months to keep a balance between her personal and professional life. At present, she mostly looks after the operational side of her business. She says that having a supportive family makes it a lot easier. “I have a supportive family and my family does not believe in gender assigned roles, instead we do everything equally which has eased things for me,” she shares.
According to her, women in tech mostly tend to quit the sector once they get married because they are not able to strike a good work-life balance. She hopes to see women receiving more support from their families in the future and their careers also being taken seriously.
She feels that there is not enough support and encouragement from the government and although there are some policies, it is the implementation that is lacking. "The government could have provided tax rebates or other benefits to encourage women-run enterprises. Similarly, tech companies that generate huge income for the country aren't also getting government support,” she says.
In her free time, Alisha likes gardening, yoga and Netflixing. In the future, she has plans to focus more on the company’s growth in terms of expanding its size as well as revenue. Earlier, Amnil Technologies use to send proposals to prospective clients for work, but now people approach the company. “And I hope this grows even more,” she says.