According to your experience, how safe is Nepal for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship?
For some businesses like manpower companies and construction businesses where there are political linkages, there could be some issues of safety. Apart from that, Nepal is a very safe country for entrepreneurs and to do business. Physical threats like extortion and public violence is almost non-existent. The government is not hostile towards businesses, but not supportive either. When we compare with neighboring nations like India or Bangladesh, we don’t have issues of extortion and forceful donations. So I believe Nepal is relatively safe for entrepreneurs.
In your new book, you have mentioned a few entrepreneurs. Are there any names that you have missed and would like to mention now?
Yes I have mentioned a few businesses and entrepreneurs, but those are not specific names. I have mentioned those who have pushed their entrepreneurship through visible branding. I feel that I have failed to mention the unsung heroes that I have seen in my travel throughout Nepal, small vendors who sell fruits or vegetables or similar goods on the streets and somehow manage to earn their livelihood and educate their children. This shows that there is such diverse entrepreneurship in Nepal and so many entrepreneurs that you cannot name all. This also shows how big the world of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs has become over a period of time.
What are the things that an entrepreneur needs to consider or be careful about while starting a business in Nepal?
First of all, an entrepreneur should trust his gut feeling. Secondly, there should be enough market research on things you are not certain about. And the research should be done carefully. A lot of people start their business based on nothing but a whim, and they tend to fail very soon. Proper market research is essential to be a successful entrepreneur. Finally, while starting any venture, you should not consider Nepal as your only market. You have to think globally, but you do not need to be a big international company for it, it’s all about the mindset. We have access to big markets nearby, like India or China or Bangladesh which we can exploit.
What, according to you, are five mistakes that an entrepreneur should avoid at all costs?
The first mistake many make is they try to be above the law. Second, it’s the inability to hire professionals for your business. We Nepalis tend to put much trust on our friends and relatives; this should be avoided. Third, entrepreneurs tend not to clarify their internal processes, like the way you hire people, the way you conduct a business and the way you manage your accounts. These sorts of internal processes should be very clear. Fourth mistake businessmen make is ignoring the back office. Back offices like IT, human recourses, audit and compliance among others should be paid equal attention. Finally, one should not forget that at the end of the day everything is about people. Even if you have the best infrastructure and best equipments and all, if you don’t have the right people, you cannot forge ahead.
Do you think the newly formed government is supportive and appreciative of entrepreneurs and businessmen?
I personally feel that the less the government comes into the picture, the more entrepreneurship prospers. The government should let go of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for it to thrive. It is also true that we need political stability for big-scale businesses and ventures, but that too isn’t essential for smaller businesses. SMEs that are fuelled by consumption will survive anyway. We do not need a supportive government for that. We have been through a long period of instability; we survived the armed conflict and numerous other impediments, but at the same time, we have seen huge businesses and notable examples of entrepreneurship. It is evident from the past few decades that professionals and entrepreneurs have grown despite the unstable government. So, I feel that we need stable policies rather than a stable government. If there is stability in policy and every other government doesn’t go around changing the business laws, taxation systems and the way to business, I don’t see any issue with the government.