22
Oct 08

Welcome to Entrepreneurs for Nepal (E4N)

We are a platform for more than 13,000 Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial Nepalis, who have ideas and want to implement it in Nepal. E4N speeds up the chances of success by credibly connecting entrepreneurs to success.

Are you interested in “creating opportunities” in Nepal? Share your ideas with us and we will connect you with the right people. We gather every Last Thursdays of each English month with young professionals and entrepreneurs who network with each other.

Also join us at our Facebook groupEntrepreneurs for Nepal here!” for regular updates, vibrant discussions and prolific networking platform in Nepal.

 

Entrepreneurs for Nepal Eco-system

Entrepreneurs for Nepal Eco-system

 


01
Jul 12

Last Thursdays with Ranjit Acharya, Advertising Entrepreneur

Ranjit Acharya is a well-known name in the field of advertising in Nepal. With an experience of more than two decades, Mr. Acharya is the founder, owner and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prisma Advertising. He also resides as the Director of Media Hub and Managing Director of Neel Barahi Films. Besides being an entrepreneur, he is also a motivational speaker and has been training students to managers on personal growth and development under the program named “Success Mantra”.

Mr. Acharya, who believes that breaking one’s own comfort zone and challenging the self as the first step towards success, shares that his first turning moment in his life came when he was flunked in grade eight. When he flunked in grade eight, his grandfather motivated him to look at the failures from the positive side by saying that he would be the only student in his entire class who would be studying the same subjects twice. This lesson, which he took it by heart, helped him excel the class the following year and started his journey of positive thinking and facing failures as the stepping-stones towards success. This is still his success mantra.

A lyricist of a bunch of songs, Mr. Acharya shares that he has shared his experiences and mantras through his songs as well. The lyricist of motivational songs like “When you see difficulty in every destination, I see destinations in every difficulty. When you see mountains in every roads, I see roads in every mountain”, he believes that an entrepreneur is the one who sees opportunities in every challenge.

A very hard worker, Mr. Acharya started his work experience during the winter break of grade eight, when he used to walk all the way from Kalikasthan to the Airport to learn about cargo business at the Himalayan Travels’ office. He mentions that it was a good learning experience and he loved his salary too, which was a bowl of egg noodles every day.

He got the taste of his first real business experience right after finishing his SLC, when he agreed to establish a medicine distribution company for his brother with a capital of Rupees 50,000 and a single room at Sanchayakosh Building at Tridevi Marg, Thamel. He faced a huge challenge when he came to know that all the medicine business in Kathmandu operated in credit. With his limited capital, he could be out of stock with two major buyer’s order and run out of both cash and product for sometime, which was bad for business. So, he applied a new technique to sell his medicines in cash. He first identified 10 major medicine retailers and started visiting them casually without mentioning them that he ran a medicine distribution company. After sometime, when the retailers became familiar and were at ease with him, he told them about his business and offered to give them 2% discount out of 5% that he got himself. But, he made it clear to them that he was unable to provide them with goods in credit. The relationship built with the retailers over time added with the 2% discount offer worked right for him; the retailers accepted his offer of dealing in cash. Thus, he started, probably for the first time in Kathmandu, to distribute medicines in cash. In a short period of one and half years, he was able to expand the business to a larger flat in Chhetrapati with 18 employees working for him.

His real career, as an advertisement entrepreneur started in this office at Chhetrapati, when one day a glucose company owner came to visit him to market his products. Since glucose is not made in Nepal and rather ordered in bulk from India and packaged by local companies under different brands, the owner of the glucose company named Glucolin, had visited his office to receive orders before getting his summer stock, which was the main sales period of the year. But, Mr. Acharya declined to do business with him remarking that his product was not advertised and people were unaware of his product due to the lack of it. Upon hearing such a remark, the owner of the Glucolin, with sheer delight, shared that they were preparing a TV advertisement with Mr. Santosh Pant, one of the famous TV producers of that time. Mr. Acharya, who had already built his interest in the advertisement business, got a bit jealous, as he wanted to do something like that himself, and asked the owner of the Glucolin about the story of the advertisement. Upon hearing a typical concept, he commented it to be a failure if done as planned, and offered to give him a better concept and shared it to him on the spot. When the Glucolin owner liked his concept, Mr. Acharya offered to design and execute his advertisement in a cheaper price if the other was ready to invest in it. The Glucolin owner after discussing with his brother called Mr. Acharya the very next day to tell him that they had dropped Santosh Pant from the advertisement and wanted to work with him to develop it. Upon hearing this, Mr. Acharya was happy but at the same time he was scared, as he had no previous experience or knowledge of movie making, advertisement, script writing, or whatsoever. However, with sheer determination he decided to go ahead with the deal.

With no idea on how to go about making the TV commercial, he went to meet Mr. Siddhartha Shakya, one of the best cameramen of that time. Though he had never met the person before, he figured out his home and went to meet him. Upon meeting Mr. Shakya, he introduced himself and told him that he had no idea whatsoever about movie direction or anything but he has an advertisement to produce. When, Mr. Shakya humbly requested to see the storyboard, it was a complete new term for Mr. Acharya, yet he replied by saying that he had it all figured out in his mind and shared the concept with him. To his surprise, Mr. Shakya agreed to work with him in the project. This gave him extra courage to make a good commercial. Then with Mr. Shakya, he started looking for artists to fit his characters. There he learnt a big lesson. First he thought that he had to put the best looking artists in the commercial to make it look good and found people as such. But, by the time the commercial was half shot, he realized that it was going to be the worst as the artist were only best looking but amateurs and were not able to deliver their dialogues properly. His got his first lesson that as an amateur it was safer to work with professionals then amateurs, even if they don’t have better appearance.

On realizing that the advertisement was going to end up pretty bad, he used his creative mind and pitched a new strategy to his client. He suggested wrapping up the commercial as it is with the 15000 already spent out of the budget of 25000, and offered to make a jingle based commercial in the remaining 10000. Luckily, his client agreed to his idea. They shot a new jingle based ad the very next day. Then he took the video to one of the best video editors of that time by the name of Mr. Rabindra Mishra, who after finishing the editing commented it to be one of the best jingle-based commercials of Nepal. He didn’t believe in his words, so to endorse his words, Mr. Acharya took the video cassette to a video cassette rental store ran by one of the prominent media figures of Nepal, Mr. Bhaskar Raj Karnikar. With the aim of getting his feedback, he asked his brother to make a copy of the video, which he didn’t needed at the time, and asked him to turn on the TV during that period. His intention was to show the commercial to Mr. Karnikar, which fortunately grabbed his attention. He asked Mr. Acharya if the commercial was an Indian commercial with Nepali jingle dubbed over it, which is a general practice here with commercial of Indian products. This was the best comment he could get to broadcast the commercial. Further, the client also approved the commercial.

“Thanks to Rabindra Mishra, who had informed me that whoever releases the advertisement claims it, I registered Prisma Advertisement to release the commercial”, says Mr. Acharya. The Prisma Advertisement thus made its entry into the market with the Glucolin’s commercial release. The commercial was an instant hit and the Glucolin stock was out of market in no time. This created another big challenge to Mr. Acharya because the commercial had to be put off from broadcasting and he had no other client to pay for his already rented office space and he had already left the medicine business to his brother. This led him to look for other advertisement clients.

At that time, there were only limited media options for advertisement, viz. Gorkhapatra, TV and radio. So, he started looking for print ad clients and started doing similar jobs. During this early phase he got more interested in the sector and realized that there was a “need gap” in the market, and if he could figure out the need gap, then he would be able to succeed in his business. He claims that “need gap” is the basis for entrepreneurship. He claims that if one can identify the “need gap” between the client and the service provider and fulfill the gap, then the person can be come a true entrepreneur. This realization led him to identify the gap in the options of media for advertisement.

While working with the realization of lack of options of advertisement media, he once met an Indian man, who was the marketing manager of Lipton Tea. When he met this person, he was complaining about the lack of professional advertisement agencies in Nepal. On hearing this, Mr. Acharya inquired about his need, and was replied, “I need to do Direct Marketing of my products. I want to do In-Shop-Operation”. Mr. Acharya tells that he had heard about direct marketing but was unaware of the term “In-Shop-Operation”. In spite of it, he told the Indian manager that he can do that and introduced himself as the advertisement agency owner. Since he still had no idea what that operation meant, he further asked the Indian manager, what he really wanted in it, without letting him know of his ignorance of the term. The manager happily replied his necessity in detail, which explained to Mr. Acharya what he meant by the jargon he had used. He promised to provide him with a proposal and show him the sales girls, which Mr. Acharya did not have at the moment, after four days. He put all his energy to meet the necessities and pulled this project off successfully. After that in next two years, Prisma became an expert agency to provide direct contact campaigns like institutional campaigns, school campaigns, door-to-door campaigns, roadshows, in-shop-operations, etc. He was able to provide the need gap in the market and by the year 2000 Prisma was getting almost 60% of the total work of multinational companies’ working in Nepal.

After reaching a certain level of success in 2000, Mr. Acharya felt the need of learning, but since he was not ready to leave his company behind, the only option he saw was to franchise with better agencies. So, he went to India and met the CEOs of four international level advertisement agencies and offered to represent them in Nepal. But, when everyone agreed to his proposal, it put him in a dilemma to choose one out of the four. So, he chose to franchise with Ogilvy and Mather, one of the best agencies, and got associated with them in 2000. After the association, he expanded the office to accommodate from then 12 employees to 40, which got small by 2004 and had to move again. He started following Ogilvy’s training materials, campaigns, websites and other materials and also attended various trainings and conferences organized by them. Since there was an international agency’s branch in the market, he shares that he felt the necessity to reach a similar level to compete in the same market. And, the association with Ogilvy gave him just that. He took the risk and made it a success.

Mr. Acharya, who believes that an entrepreneur loves what he does and is hardworking and passionate, says that one also needs to diversify his/her business. But while diversifying, one must be cautious not to enter into a business that he/she is not an expert of, which means that the person needs to have enough knowledge about that sector. With such thoughts, he diversified his business from advertisement agency to a media-buying house called Media Hub, which has recently acquired Avenues Television.

He claims that if a person can make four levels of profits out of a single product, then that person is a great entrepreneur. He shares that he has been able to make 3 tiers of profits from a single product, so far. An avid speaker, Mr. Acharya had started giving motivational speeches since 1998 under the banner of “Success Mantra”, which is still carrying on with much success. He was able to convert his passion into another revenue source, and suggests others to do so too.

A devoted positive thinker, Mr. Acharya encourages everyone to think positive, and claims that positive thinking helps one identify opportunity in a mass of problems and challenges. And, this is what he says makes a good entrepreneur.

 

 

B) QUESTIONS FROM THE PARTICIPANTS

Q. You shared that at different times, you have agreed to take up works that you had never known about, and completed it successfully. Could you please share us how to develop that kind of confidence in us?

A. Basically, when you tell yourself that you can do it, you are challenging yourself. When you challenge yourself, you cannot lie to yourself as well. When you cannot lie to yourself and challenge yourself, then you will learn and explore. If you submerse a man in water, that man will do anything to breathe. This attitude to do anything for a single breath is a must in an entrepreneur and it cannot be achieved by others challenging you, but you need to challenge yourself for it. If you say you cannot, you will be throwing away opportunities. And, if one wants to grab opportunities, one has to take risks.

Q.   As you said that taking risk is one of the important natures of an entrepreneur, do you have any tips on how to avert challenges and develop risk-taking attitude?

A.  When I say that one needs to challenge the self to do a new thing, I also wanted to say that there is not shortcut to it. When a larva of a butterfly is trying to get out of the cocoon, if you cut the cocoon’s opening thinking you are helping it, then you are wrong. You will kill that butterfly instead because it is its process to become a butterfly from a larva. Until it goes through the entire process, its wings do not become strong enough to fly. Similarly, one has to go through the entire learning process to be successful. One has to work hard and do the preparation besides saying I can. But, there is not shortcut to it.

Q. While starting up, I think that one also needs to pull legs of others to go ahead of them. But it is unethical. How do you rationalize it?

A. While grabbing opportunities, you should grab opportunities, not pull others’ legs. If you have grabbed any opportunity unethically, it won’t last long. One should try to play and win rather than trying to defeat others. A football player who plays to defeat others sees eleven opponents, but a player who plays to win the game only sees the goal post.

Q. You mentioned that if one has the passion and work hard, one could achieve anything. However, if one does not have enough skills or knowledge to do so, then how can someone with mere passion and hard work be successful?

A. Everyone has an interest and potentials, but the person himself is capable of identifying that and no one else. And, everyone should identify his/her interest and potentials and pursue it with will power and hard work. Unless one has the interest in doing what he does, it will not be a success. However, one needs to understand what one’s interest are and what potentials do the person carry. Realizing that potential, one needs to prepare the way. For example, A. R. Rahman had a huge interest to sing, but he knew that his potential was to become a famous musician. So he prepared to become a musician. Once when he reached a stage of success and he sang, the he was listened to.

Transcript prepared by the wonderful team at Samriddhi


13
Jun 12

Invitation for Last Thursdays with Nischal Basnet Loot Film young Director /Producer of Nepal

Come and Network.  5:30 pm sharp. June 28th Thursday, DECC in UWTC, Tripureswor, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Open for all entrepreneurial focused ! :)
Further details in the link:

Last Thursdays with Nischal Basnet, “Loot” Film Director & Producer


13
Jun 12

Last Thursdays with Rajendra Khetan

Rajendra Khetan

Rajendra Khetan is a multi-generational entrepreneur currently leading the Khetan Group, one of the oldest business-families in Nepal. The oldest of three brothers of Khetan family, he currently holds the position of the Chairman of Laxmi Bank and PrimeLife Insurance, and the President of Nepal Britain Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Everest Insurance to name a few.

In the Last Thursdays interaction program, jointly organized by the Entrepreneurs for Nepal and Samriddhi, the prosperity foundation in March 2012, Mr. Khetan voiced his belief that entrepreneurship is the only way for development in Nepal, while humbly considering himself neither having the high academic credential nor a super successful entrepreneur or a business tycoon. He thinks he merely adds bricks of entrepreneurship to the business that his forefathers started more than a century ago. However, he shares that more challenges and opportunities lie in this as well.

The Khetan family business started in Nepal almost 170 years ago during the Nepal-Tibet War, popularly known as Bhot ko Ladai, when Mr. Rajendra Khetan’s great, great grandfather Mr. Kishun Ram started supplying rice and salt to the Nepalese soldiers. Since then the Khetan family never looked back.

After starting their family business in 1845 as small traders, the Khetan family started importing fabrics from India in 1910. Finally, in the mid 1937, they registered their firm and became one among the first 32 registered business firms in Nepal. Mr. Khetan proudly shares the legacy of their family business being one of the first tax-payers practically starting the modern tax regime in Nepal. In 1970, they started their first diversion by exporting jute and lintels. Then, in 1989 the family entered the manufacturing business collaborating with foreign multinationals by establishing Gorkha Brewery. Expansion of their business empire followed in the coming years. In 1993 and 1994, they stepped into banking and insurance business and in 2000 they created their presence in the food processing and manufacturing business. In 2002, Laxmi Bank was initiated. These are only some of the keystone initiatives, among other investments and businesses, the Khetan Group has headed over the business history of more than 170 years.

The Khetan Group has not only become an integral part of the economic development of Nepal over the years, but they have also flagged the keystones in the development process. Khetan Group was one of the first to start a private bank completely locally owned, named The Himalayan Bank, and the first to start an aviation company by the name of Nepal Air Charter Service (NACS).

Mr. Khetan says that their family’s business journey since 1845 tells him that more than capital, technology or resources, the most important requirement to becoming an entrepreneur is the thought or belief in starting up a venture!

(Lesson #1) Believe in yourself and the courage to dream are the first and the most important step towards becoming an entrepreneur.

This dream can start to materialize in the form of a small shopkeeper, a trader or a merchant. As these small ventures grow, capital development becomes the main focus. Once the capital is generated to some extent, then it is invested further in larger ventures growing the profit scale as well as the capital return. This is how, he tells, Khetan Group has reached its stage today.

“Being focused in your work is very important. This has been one of the major key in our success”, says Mr. Khetan. He says that besides profit-making activities, Khetan Group has also been actively involved in welfare works. Kathmandu University and Late Hari Khetan Multiple Campus in Birgunj, both non-commercial investments in the educational sector, are some of the examples of welfare works the family is involved in. They are also establishing a non-commercial trauma center in Naubisey for people of Dhading and surrounding area to recognize the respect given to his late father by the state.

Mr. Khetan shared the operational structure of the group as well. There are two main components: one the Khetan Group itself and the other is a group of public shareholders, investors, etc.

  • Between these two groups lies a panel of experts that evaluates the viability of the new projects before implementing them.
  • Every business of the group has a board and an executive team. The board overlooks the policy level decisions while the operation of the business is trusted upon the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
  • However, to make the decision-making process simpler and effective, a Management Committee/Thematic Committee is formed with the CEO, two board members and sometimes two executive team members.
  • This committee is above the CEO in the organizational hierarchy and overlooks the major policy decisions. However, the CEO is given enough freedom to operate under the guidelines drawn by the five-year visions and the annual plans.
  • And, groups of experts bridge the gaps between the CEO and the departments.

He is currently focused on improving the financial oversight of the businesses of the group and is working hard towards establishing a one-stop financial solution center.

 Questions from participants

Q.. Why hasn’t the family-run big business houses of Nepal opened up their businesses to the public by listing themselves in the stock market?

A. Yes, the rich and leading private sector and business houses of Nepal are not open to public. They fear this. There are three main reasons for this- i) lack of account transparency, ii) lack of confidence to face the public with reasons for their actions, and iii) quick money or short-term plans.

We are one of the biggest public shareholding companies with 57,000 shareholders trusting us and we have been able to deliver. Yes, it is very important to include people despite their investment capacity to participate in the investment process. This will not only make capital collection fast but also ensure higher responsibility to the business, since shareholders are far more involved than banks, whose loans are used for investment. Both the private sector and the government must promote the public investment habits.

Q. Are your financial institutions catering in the field of education and health services?

A. Yes we have, but very low. Since there has always been a constant discussion on the health and education sectors being nationalized, the financial institutions are hesitant to invest much in these sectors. However, wherever there is viability, they have been investing in these sectors. Recently, since the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) requested the financial sectors to contribute more in social and grassroots economy, I think the investment will grow in these sectors. If NRB includes health and education in the priority sector lending, the investment will grow hugely in both these sectors.

Q. What skills do you suggest young want-to-be entrepreneurs to learn or develop to become successful in the future?

A. Firstly, an entrepreneur should understand the basis of entrepreneurship or business, which is, wherever there is a market demand, supply. Secondly, manufacture something innovate or new that can cater to market. World Trade Organization (WTO)’s definition adds access to market, quality and competitive market to the list.

(Lesson #2) So my suggestion is that one should learn to take risk, innovate and access the market.

Q. I think manufacturing sector is the most important sector for the development of economy. Why are you diversifying only in service sector and not in manufacturing sector?

A. Yes, we are currently focusing on service sector rather than manufacturing sectors. The huge amount of under-invoicing and corruption in the customs makes our industries and manufacturing companies unable to compete with the foreign products. This will not stop because the cartels in customs have enough power to topple the government. Further, the corrupt political party leaders, lawmakers and bureaucrats are making import-dependent policies. They even ask bribes to fix a meeting. How will industries and manufacturing companies survive in an environment like this? We need to work together to fight against this corrupt regimes and import-dependent policies.  Thankfully, the licensing system was abolished earlier in Nepal, or else whatever we have in the name of industries would not have even existed. Tired and frustrated with all this, we have decided to concentrate on the service industries for sometime, until the environment gets better.
Q. You are involved in lots of different businesses and organizations. On top of it, you are also a Constituent Assembly Member. How do you manage your time?

A. As I mentioned earlier, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of my businesses. There is the CEO and the executive team to do so. As a board member I hardly sit for a meeting in 15-30 days, that too only for the policy level or highly important decision-making. This is how I could keep myself free in-spite of running various companies. So, I could devote more time in social work, constitution building, and give more time to my family, etc. To work doesn’t mean selling yourself; it means to manage better.

(Lesson #3) We need to learn how to delegate work and create employment.

If I had stayed as a CEO, what would my CEOs do besides going abroad to look for job? Can’t Nepalese manage? Do we always need a foreigner to manage? No, we don’t. We are capable of it. In The Himalayan Bank, we had foreigners working under Nepalese managers; same in the case of Gorkha Brewery.

Q.   What challenges do you see in the businesses of Nepal due to political instability?

A.    There is a big challenge being faced by the business houses from political parties. Let me give you an example. Where there is a factory, the state politician first gets the local political units to extort money from the factory owner. When the businessman does not comply, they get the same units to stop the business. Then the businessman negotiates with these units and fixes the problem. Now, the politician uses the trade unions to create disturbances in the factory. The businessman once solves the issues with the trade unions. Then the politician becomes a minister and uses his staffs to create hindrances in the operations of the factory to extort more money from the businessman. In this way, the businessman is extorted once and again by the political parties and their leaders. This is also the reason why the business houses don’t want to come to public.

Q.   When do you think is the right time for the young entrepreneurs of today to invest in Nepal given the years of political and social instability that currently exist in the country?

A. (Lesson #4) First of all, whenever you see a demand-gap and think you can bridge it with your supply, then is the time to invest. Secondly, if you have a new and innovative idea then it is the right time to invest. The right time is now, if you can see either of these two things.

If you divide your brain into four parts, one part will think about the demand-gap and supply opportunities available, another will think of a new and innovative idea, the third one will access risk and the fourth one will manage this. Once you have all of the four segments, you are an entrepreneur. You aren’t just born to follow or work for someone else. Each and every one of you has that entrepreneur in you. It is just about recognizing it.

Q.   Based on your remark of the lack of skilled manpower in the country, what role do you see in the coordination between the educational institutions and the business enterprises to fulfill this gap?
A. Yes you are right. Now is the time for both the education institutions and the business enterprises to access where the national, regional and international economies are directed and develop the required manpower in mutual understandings. I am associated with Kathmandu University and I ask my deans about the development of human resources, and they answer me that we are doing better than Tribhuvan University and we have more faculty than them. There are a bunch of business schools now producing good products. However, there is a massive shortage of skilled manpower – MBA graduates, Chartered Accountants, etc.
Q.    Lot of established entrepreneurs say that you don’t need much capital to start a business. Following the same thought, I started a company for office supplies eighteen months back. But, now I face a serious crunch of capital for expansion of my business. However, without enough the collaterals the banks in Nepal do not provide loans. In this case, how can young entrepreneurs like us move ahead?

A. Yes, I agree that capital is not the hindrance in starting a business. But however capital is required for expansion. The banks here give loans based on collaterals. This is wrong. The loans must be given to the ideas, based on their potential of success. Our financial sector has shortcomings in this area. It is because of Nepal Rastra Bank’s rules for these institutions for not allowing them to give loans without collaterals. Secondly, because of the lack of cost accounting experts and financial analysts, we are not able to assure the success potential of the projects. Physical property should not be the criteria for collaterals. Instead, ideas and innovations should be regarded as collaterals for the loans. However, I see we are very far away from this scenario. Yet, we all need to work together to create this environment.

 

Q.   Lot of business leaders here are associated with some associations, foundations, chambers and even political parties. Are they doing so to make their own business operations easy or for the larger good of many?

A.    Before 2046, during the license raaj, everyone had to be bribed. After the end of license raaj, they were to be bribed for not disturbing the work. Now, the bribes are given to stop them from looting the work itself. Some who could fight they are still fighting against these system, and whoever couldn’t they got merged in it. These two groups are still fighting. We will have to wait for another decade to see who wins. But, in today’s date, more than half of the economy is a part of the political nexus. Not being a part of it is not an option owing to lists of hindrances they present to stop your work. The industries have become a warzone today.

Please send feedback to info@e4nepal.com

Last Thursdays is a regularly monthly entrepreneurs networking session organized by Entrepreneurs for Nepal in association with the Samriddhi Foundation. This program is supported by Biruwa Ventures and DECC.

This summary is taken from a transcript made by Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation from the video taken during the talk program “Last Thursdays with an Entrepreneur”.