Last Thursdays…. where Entrepreneurs Speak
Venue: Buzz Café, Baluwatar
Date: 30th April
Time: 5:30 pm-7:00 pm
Speaker: Mr. Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, Patron/ Chief Strategist, Hydro Solutions
Organized by:Entrepreneurs for Nepal and Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation
The guest for the episode, Mr. Gyanendra Lal Pradhan (Patron/Chief Strategist, Hydro Sosuluotions) is an electrical engineer and a business entrepreneur and widely known for his contribution on areas like of hydroelectricity and clean water. Mr. Pradhan is patron/ chief strategist of Hydro Ssolutions which has aboutis currently working on about 15 hydro projects in hand capable of producing more than 360 Mega Watts (MW) of electricity. Mr. Pradhan thinks he is usually an unwanted guest of the government because he is constantly pushing the government to much to act.
Mr. Pradhan believes Nepal is great, which is full of life unlike its neighbors who don’t have as favorable environment for life. Nepal It has 20000 liters of per capita water and enough potentiality of generating enough electricity to meet the demand of whole India and Bangladesh being the 7th riches country in hydroelectricity in the world. Based on the contrast between Nepal and its neighbors, he takes Nepal a cheese between two breads. Besides, unlike other countries, Nepal has both the potentiality potential toof generateing electricity and water and the market to sell for them as well, not only one of the features.
On the purpose of his business ventures, he has been to China more than 150 times since 1978 and is amazed by the growth of China after Deng Xiaoping became the leader of China. He thinks every country needs visionary leader as Deng Xiaoping who is committed to the development of the country rather than their political interest or ideological dogma.
According to Mr. Pradhan, entrepreneurship doesn’t benefit an individual alone but the whole society and the country by creating employment opportunities and generating wealth. He started his entrepreneurship venture 18 years ago with 5 employees and believes to have moved in right direction to accommodating more than 100 employees currently. He is hopeful that with years his venture will be able to accommodate much more employees.
Despite of having the potentiality, Nepal’s resources are being poorly managed;, we have no oil with Oil Corporation, no water with Nepal Drinking Water Corporation, no electricity with NEA. All of these problems are self made. So, what’s the process of bridging the gap between potentiality and reality? He thinks, youth or younger generations have a great role in the process.
Talking about the environment for business in Nepal, he doesn’t find it secure enough owing to the fact that the country had a decade of internal conflict between the Maoists and the then government. He shared his own experience of doing business at the time of conflict. He had only just bought the Butwal Hydropower Company when the then rebels blasted his station. Extreme depression made him giving a serious thought of moving to Canada to settle there but abandoned the thought later.
Later, he went to Pyuthan to interact with the Maoists. He wanted to know the rebels destroyed hydropower stations and Nepal Telecom Towers which primarily benefited the poor not the so called feudal they were struggling against. He also requested them not to destroy the Jhimruk Hydropower promising them that he won’t bring the army to the project site for security for which he had to face considerable pressure from the government. He resolved the issue with the Norwegian help. He thinks the events might be one of the reasons Maoist-led government has shown interest in is concerned about the generation of hydropower. He went to meet Mr. Kansakar, the then managing director of Nepal Telecom but couldn’t convince him to take similar approach towards solving the issues. He thinks the rebels had been mistakenly destroying the infrastructures and clear communication would have generated understanding and thereby creating conducive environment for infrastructures even at the time of conflict.
As an advice to young entrepreneurs, he suggests them to take some calculated risks and do something new rather than copying from someone because copying from someone always makes one inferior to the original entrepreneur. Risks should be reasonable though.
Organizing capacity is another very important skill needed by an entrepreneur because he believes even the most capable entrepreneurs cannot exceed certain level without organization. Organizing skills involve networking and connecting with people who are crucial to the success of the organization. According to him, partnership is better form of business ventures and competition between partners promotes the interest of the organization rather than sole trading concern where the sole owner enjoys monopoly.
Mr. Pradhan grew up in Bandipur where he went to the local government school using slates as copies. He related his own experience to let the younger generation realize that they are much privileged as compared to his generation. He first saw his copy at class 4 and his first car at class 6.
A person from his village who returned from Switzerland talking about ropeways and electricity instilled on him the interest towards electricity which later developed into passion as he began using his pocket money to buy lights and torches.
Mr. Pradhan then emphasized on the importance of hydroelectricity in Nepal. Hydropower is the cheapest form of energy and the most convenient as well. Electricity is more than 70 percent efficient which is very high as compared to other forms of energy. Nepal saw the dawn of electricity with the 500KW Pharping Hydroelectricity Project in 1911 AD. But lights were consumed by the the then rulers only and there wasn’t any for the general public. People used to call the lights the “Chandra batti” and Mr Pradhan calls the current electricity “Prachanda batti” owing to the unchanged condition of the Nepali general public. But water is to Nepal as oil is to the Arabian countries. He suggests everyone to learn from Norway who is the fifth largest producer of oil uses electricity for its domestic use and exports all oil. Norway stated electricity projects when it was too poor by calling on foreign investment and safeguarding the investments. The abundant production of cheap electricity caused foreign aluminum companies to come to Norway and soon Norway was a large producer of aluminum as well and then due to the arising demands many foreign companies came to Norway to create a huge shipping industry which was followed by Petroleum seekers. Similarly Nepal can be as prosperous as Norway if it utilizes its water resources properly. Nepal not only has the potentiality to generate electricity, but it has also has been fulfilling more than 70 % of India’s fresh water demand.
Mr. Pradhan outlines the primary characteristics of successful entrepreneurs as follows:
One need to think differently…To be different
Be a day dreamers
Independent, tough and creative
Be prompt decision makers if they have enough facts/ information
Have a vision to drive enterprise
Have a habit of analyzing their past actions and learning from them and planning future steps
Have determination and strategies to turn the vision into reality
Mr. Pradhan earned his first salary of Rs. 374 as engineer in 2035 and worked as engineer with a state-owned transformer producing company. As an employee he was sad to see his colleagues harassing and delaying the jobs of general public in order to extract bribes. He later started his own cable company in 1992 with a capital of 0.5 million which he has developed into the second largest cable company of the country.His ventures have been awarded with the “Blue Planet Awards “(2005) and other various awards.
Mr. Pradhan started Hydro Solutions in 2007 which has projects producing more than 3000 Megawatts MW in hand in present. He shares a deep bond with his employees to whom he sometimes cooks various dishes.
Like every entrepreneur, Mr. Pradhan has a very busy schedule which consists of meetings, report reviews, political advocacy for the development of hydropower and promotion of his companies. Nonetheless, he sets aside a day each for social involvements and his family every week.
Concluding his speech, Mr. Pradhan said more than 50 thousand crore rupees is currently being invested in hydropower now. It is the most significant time in the history of hydroelectricity in Nepal. The fate of the current investments will determine the future of hydroelectricity in Nepal. He warned that if the current investments returned or failed due to the reasons as before, it would be better to forget about hydroelectricity in Nepal forever.
Question and Answers
What’s the biggest obstacle to making something happen? We hear about corruption, inefficiency?
This country is great, we have enough enormous resources but they are very poorly managed and there is a lack of visionary leaders. Nepal has a very high rate of political understanding but most of the people don’t understand economics and the virtue of entrepreneurship.
Business people are bit self-centered. They need to persuade leaders to do something for the country instead of thinking about profits only. Our leaders aren’t bad. When needed, they have struggled and sacrificed for the country, but as they have their own agenda and we can persuade them to do something for the country at least. We need to pressurize the leaders by organizing and stop talking too negatively about this country. Even countries like Bhutan, Vietnam, and Cambodia have changed. So can us.
What are the major hindrances to goal of producing the 10000 Mega watt of electricity? NRB says our commercial banks don’t have enough capital? Who will fund the projects?
We have 550 billion rupees in our market. Around 2000 Mega watt can be produced with this much capital for the rest foreign investments should be attracted. And people needn’t worry about the foreign investment as once invested in hydro projects they become local investments as it not possible to shift all the infrastructure of hydro electricity. We need to make the environment investment friendly though.
Can’t the remittance be a good source of capital for investment in hydropower?
It can be. People should be provided with proper incentives to invest their money on hydroelectricity rather than the areas they are investing now.
How to manage the people affected by construction of hydro projects and how to overcome objections of locals in constructing hydro electricity projects?
Affected is wrong word to use. Construction of hydropower projects always improves the life standard of local people by providing them with electricity, roads and better lands…so better say promotion. Usually high, unreasonable expectations of local people make them interrupt projects. We need to make them aware of the limitations of the project but fulfill all the promises you make to the. Making locals happy is more important than reducing cost.
Which projects are on the pipeline?
Projects capable of producing more than 3000 Mega WattsMW of electricity and investments of more than 50 thousand crore have already started. It’s our last chance of producing the electricity and if we fail now , we better forget about producing hydro power in this country.
These projects are will not only help in producing electricity but also help to create a peaceful country by engaging every people in construction works, and generating employment and income for all like that of Sikkim 20 years ago.
Final tip: It’s very easy to be happy. Just learn to separate chinta and chintan. Worry and do your best to change the things you can change and learn not to worry about the things you cannot change!
Around 35 people from various backgrounds including entrepreneurs related to tourism sector, travel agencies and students had participated in the event.
Last Thursdays…. where Entrepreneurs Speak