Man of Many Trades
He has always believed in the potential of the local manpower to reach new heights. Carrying this vision from the start, Bijay Rajbhandary has come a long way in creating opportunities in the diverse fields he has recognized as the initial road to a nation’s development.
When Bijay Rajbhandary came back to Nepal and started his company, he and his partners started with nothing more than three-lakh rupees at a rented room in New Road with one table and three chairs. Twenty years and twenty-six ventures later, he looks back at his initial years of entrepreneurship as a beginning of a journey on the road to creating opportunities.
Bijay Rajbhandary’s career started out as a Project Manager in Lumbini Development Project after having studied engineering in India. “I got to work with many foreign experts while working at Lumbini. They were experts in their field who had gotten a lot of exposure around the world. The more I interacted with them, the more I understood that they had accumulated a vast range of knowledge and experience simply by travelling abroad.” He realized that exposure is critical in gathering experience and knowledge. That was when he decided to go study abroad.
Bijay Rajbhandary went on to get a Master’s Degree in Construction Management from University of New Mexico. While studying there, Rajbhandary also happened to take a course on entrepreneurship from William Gross, who had previously worked with IBM. “He planted the entrepreneurial seed in me, and after that there was no question in my mind that I would be coming back to Nepal and starting a business. Had I stayed in the US, I wouldn’t have been able to do much.”`
Bijay Rajbhandary returned to Nepal in 1992 and established CE Constructions with five other partners who had pitched in a sum of fifty thousand each. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with the money, besides the fact that he wanted to establish diversified integrated ventures for Nepal’s under developed economic scene. Having earned a degree in Engineering, Rajbhandary decided to start construction management. However, his first venture faced a lot challenges as most people didn’t know what construction management is. “People generally saw us only as a contractors and we couldn’t prove that we were otherwise. We had to prove that we were different, so we added three principles to our business—timely delivery, quality awareness and cost effective management skills.” With this strategy, Bijay Rajbhandary and his team slowly came in favor of the market. Pretty soon their business was thriving. Since then, CE Construction has overlooked some of the major construction projects in Nepal, such as the Comfort Housing in Sitapaila and Buddhanilkantha, Premier International School in Satdobato and the Great Lotus Stupa in Lumbini.
But that wasn’t enough for Bijay Rajbhandary. “People would often reach this point where their company starts to make profit and the customers start favoring their product, and they start being complacent. But I see this as a dangerous pit-stop in an entrepreneur’s life. We cannot relax, I call this phase “The Checkpoint” because this is the time when we need to check our past efforts and begin to make new ventures in our businesses.” Bijay Rajbhandary already had a construction company which was growing significantly but there were other problems he wished to tackle. His initial vision included a dream of venturing into other sectors and recognizing entrepreneurial potential in those sectors. He calls these sectors the CHIEF sector, short for Consultancy and Construction, Health, Industry, Education and Finance. The potential sectors, he still believes has a lot of opportunity.
Having already made it in the construction business, Bijay Rajbhandary felt, it was time to move ahead.
After having established CE Construction, he looked towards a new venture, real estate. But even though he was already an established entrepreneur, the challenges were in plenty. “While the managerial aspects of every venture might be the same, each venture comes with its own set of problems,” he says when asked about the challenges he faced, “While working in real estate too, we had a lot of problems with the quality and timely delivery of the construction materials.” But being a true entrepreneur that he is, he saw those challenges as an opportunity to grow. Rajbhandary decided that if the other companies cannot deliver quality products on time then his own company will manage the construction materials on their own and that is how he came up with Aggremate Industry Pvt. Ltd. His new company started producing building materials to cater to the Nepali constuction industry.
Having worked with some of the global experts in their field, he always thought about the local manpower’s capability to match that of foreign competitors. “If they can do it why not us?” he says. Bijay Rajbhandary wanted to provide a platform where local manpower could get exposure in the global arena and thus, came up with CE Overseas. Through CE Overseas, he appointed local manpower to work as project managers and experts in foreign countries.“I always believed that we should be able to stand on a global level. Globalization is changing the world rapidly but our manpower is underutilized. We haven’t been able to do to the extent that we are capable of. Skilled manpower is still a challenge. They need the exposure to widen their visions.”
Having already established several major companies, most people would stop here and be satisfied with their achievements but for Bijay Rajbhandary, this was not enough. Keeping in mind his philosophy, the development of a nation, Rajbhandari had yet to set foot in other sectors of entrepreneurship. He believed that with education the youths would understand the need for entrepreneurship, and thus became one of the founding directors of Ace Institute of Management. While reaching out for his goal in CHIEF areas, he next stepped into the health sector and opened Grande International Hospital in Gongabu. Continuing his entrepreneurial journey, Rajbhandary then went on to establish Vibor Bank. “In order to promote entrepreneurs they should be financially assisted. We need entrepreneurs but how can they rise up if no one is willing to invest in them? Having gone through that phase, I understood how difficult it is for startups, thus my next venture came in the field of finance, Vibor Bank.”
Over the last twenty years in entrepreneurship, Bijay Rajbhandary has been through many ups and downs. Working with several partners in numerous businesses, he has come to understand that one asset is the most important among all others. He believes a company can thrive only if it has employees who are loyal and are satisfied with their work. “When starting up, choosing the right partner is important, but in the long run, the employees are the ones who will be pushing your company forward. It is necessary to understand what an employee expects from a company but at the same time we have to make the employees understand what their company expects of them,” says Rajbhandary. “Respect is of great value, not only should you respect your business partners but also your employees and even your guard. That helps.” Today Bijay Rajbhandary is a happy man, not only because he has been able to fulfill his dream of creating opportunities in the development of the nation but also because he has a number of employees who respects him as much as he respects each of them.