a government that's pro entrepreneurs
The government-run Business Incubation Program guides the Small and Medium Enterprises in setting up ventures. Maybe the government isn’t completely ignoring the entrepreneurial sector after all.
Most entrepreneurs think the government is doing nothing to promote entrepreneurship in Nepal. The hassle that an entrepreneur goes through while registering a company at the Office of Company Registrar alone is enough to make them think that. Located within the same premises is the Business Incubation Program (BIP), a business incubator which operates under the Department of Cottage and Small Industries. Finding the office however, is just as confusing as getting around any other government office. (Signboards please!)
The BIP takes in people with innovative ideas and gives them the necessary support to start their own businesses. The Program was initiated in 2008 and has seen the graduation of 3 batches of incubates and is currently working with two more. The program is mainly focused on entrepreneurs who have an innovative business plan but are lacking the resources to get ahead with their enterprises. The “students” are provided with a course of 16 to 24 months which includes orientation, introduction to general management and marketing, industrial tours and even the provision of office space and internet facilities. Being the only government-run office with minimum fees and dedicated to entrepreneurship and incubating, BIP does see a considerable number of applications.
Still it would seem Nepal’s political scenario isn’t easy on government programs either. It is suffering from the same problems as every other organization, maybe even more. Private companies could go on doing their business even during bandhas and political turmoil but a government organization will obviously come to a halt. That’s the reason the BIP hasn’t been able to recruit participant for this fiscal year until quite recently. Working with a budget of 25 lakh rupees, the BIP hasn’t been able to extend their program outside the Valley, as was their initial plan.
Yet, dedication and passion is what drives entrepreneurs and so, BIP has seen an impressive success rate of its graduated participant. On an average, three ventures prove successful out of five graduates. “It is like an open university. You have to be independent and do things on your own,” says Madhukar KC, a graduate of the first batch of incubates. “BIP only shows you the way; the rest is up to us. Still, I was able to do a lot of research while I was there and that helped me to turn my idea, Matribhumi Chulo, into a reality.” If not anything, BIP is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to build an image. Khadananda Siwakoti, Founder of Siwakoti Bags, a participant of the third batch awaiting his graduation says, “I got a lot of knowledge about managing and product enhancement. But they couldn’t find a mentor for my line of work. However, I was able to create a great network with my fellow incubates.” In the end, a little push from a program like BIP does go a long way.
The concept of a BIP is the primary initiation towards promoting entrepreneurship in Nepal on the government’s part. The lack of publicity however, is playing a key-role in shunting the BIP from doing its best work. If it were to come out of its shell, the Program could go further in finding more investors, mentors and innovative entrepreneurs; maybe even foreign seed funds. While it does have some glitches comparable to the attitude of other government-run offices, BIP might be an answer to that question we hear so often: “Is the government doing anything to promote entrepreneurship in Nepal?”