In January I had the pleasure of visiting Kathmandu as a mentor for Rockstart Impact, an accelerator program based on Rockstart’s business acceleration principles and tailored for the support of Nepali entrepreneurs in growing their businesses and raising investment.
The 2015 program was a huge success, with 8 out of the 10 participating entrepreneurs being pledged investments for a total of € 1.8 million. This year over 200 companies applied, and the level of the 10 selected entrepreneurs is highly promising.
The participating companies range from the likes of a women led solar light company that helps distribute clean technology to rural areas in Nepal to a brick manufacturing company that has found an innovative way to make concrete bricks using pressure and vibration, instead of the traditional brick making process which utilizes highly polluting coal ovens (for a photo series on this process have a look at my photography website).
More information on the selected entrepreneurs can be found on the Rockstart website.
Nepal has had a difficult year, with the terrifying earthquake being followed by the tedious gas-crisis due to seemingly never-ending discussions on Nepal’s constitution. Despite the challenges the Nepali face it was truly inspiring to see that they keep smiling and carry on with their business as if it is normal to have to stand in line for days on end in order to secure a full tank of gas (or to pay 4 times the regular amount on the black market).
Brain drain in Nepal
Also impressive to see was that many of the companies are led by founders that have finished their studies at prestigious universities in the US or other Western countries. Instead of staying abroad and accepting a well-paid position at a foreign bank or other large corporate, they chose to return to Nepal and opted for the humble life as a startup entrepreneur.
By doing so they battle the enormous brain-drain which has been affecting Nepal for years and help shape a better future for their country by creating jobs, disrupting industries and making a positive impact on the environment.
All of the companies will travel to Amsterdam in April for Demo Day (the final date is yet to be determined), during which they will pitch in front of investors in order to hopefully again successfully secure investment for their businesses.
This blog was also featured on Startupjuncture.