Not a Roll of Dice
While entrepreneurship has a lot to do with taking risks and doing something new, that doesn’t mean that you can blindly jump off a cliff hoping to land on a flying eagle. It has to be a calculated risk, not a roll of the dice. As a place to start, here is a list of five sectors with bright prospect
Low Risk Sectors
1. Tourism: The Himalayas and the gorgeous lofty hills have not been fully taken advantage of by the tourism industry. From trekking to paragliding, there are infinite numbers of different sites and spots, each with its own unique beauty and challenges to offer. The trick is to tweak a common tourist activity and provide a unique experience. Socialtours.com is an example. The site offers alternative ways of experiencing Nepal with ideas like rice planting trips and Sherpa Dashain treks.
2. Agriculture: For this, you have to come up with something more unique than tomatoes or poultry. Think of aiselu or kaafal. They grow in the wild almost anywhere in the hills. Or Allo (sisno) which can be used to make brilliant fiber for textiles. With these kinds of naturally occurring plants, a farm is not a bad idea. If you can package your product for an international market, you will do even better. Until recently, husbandry was a risky business with no insurance options. But now you can even have your farms insured.
3. IT: “IT is a level playing field. You can’t make excuses and say that there is no capital or that the product didn’t do well because its Nepali,” says Kathmandu based grepsr’s Subrat Basnet who has huge international clients like Target and Getty Images. Internet penetration is nearly 20% and growing, but cell phone penetration is more than 60% in Nepal indicating where the market is. 3G services are on the rise too. Advertising, banking, bill-paying are some areas to consider.
4: Nursing homes for the elderly: The family structure in our society is changing. Working individuals have no time to personally take care of their aged parents. While old age homes still have a stigma attached to them, busy people would surely appreciate some external help perhaps some kind of home care or day care services, or some milder version of old age homes. Health at home has proved that there is a market for it already.
5. Higher Education: Data shows that the number of Nepali students heading to foreign countries for higher education has been declining in recent years. Most students want to go abroad because they can’t have the courses or programs of their choice in Nepali universities. A foreign university affiliated college with programs that aren’t available in Nepal but have a demand among Nepali students would have takers. This requires huge investment in terms of money, infrastructure and manpower, but if done with a view to emulating foreign standards of education in Nepal, it’s a good bet.
High Risk Sectors
1. Transportation: Looking at the rapid expansion of roads in Kathmandu, if you think an alternate way to move around the city would be a good idea – you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s a challenge to work around the existing policies and the rigid system but there’s definitely a void here to be filled.
2. Packaged Food: Canned foods are considered a life-saver in many western countries. But in Nepal, we still love buying our groceries fresh from the store. People find time to prepare their meals from scratch. Canned fish, perhaps even meat, frozen pizzas or momos might be acceptable. But readymade rotis and frozen tarkari etc. would be outrageous.
3. Publishing: Nepali writers writing in Nepali and English, both are on the rise. Recent trends show that books by celebrity authors do extremely well. Hari Bansha Acharya’s autobiography alone sold more than 20,000 copies. The challenge is to market new books by emerging writers. The notion of reading for pleasure has to take root first.
4. Entertainment: The success of futsal in Kathmandu is no indicator that any other outdoor entertainment business will do well. Mini Golf and paintball aren’t scoring goals. Football is a popular sport among youths and teenagers, but games like golf and paintball aren’t culturally rooted. Although people may give it a try, they won’t have a big market.
5. Restaurants and Cafés: The restaurant business has become tougher because it has grown very competitive. Yet, you’ll find tables empty most of the time. Unless you have a USP, something really distinct and special other than food, service and ambience – perhaps something that appeals to the emotion – your restaurant will have to struggle.