A Dutchman with entrepreneurial ambitions will look around in amazement in Nepal. In the Western world, business men face the law of diminishing returns, whereas Nepal’s economy is a green field by comparison. Back home, we have to exert ourselves to detect a suitable and workable niche, and when we succeed, we have to protect the newfound niche from competitors. Having a unique business in Nepal seems easy.
Unfortunately, it is not so easy as it seems. Amidst all the possibilities, there are two distinct disadvantages that entrepreneurs in Nepal must face. First, you cannot build your business in a vacuum. In an underdeveloped economy you will face many difficulties.For example, when you start a dairy factory, the availability and timing of milk-delivery is crucial. In a country where decent roads are lacking, this will be a severe challenge. When you build a wind farm, which can be challenging by itself, the lack of decent roads also seriously hinders the transport of heavy materials. All in all, it’s easy to have a good idea, but execution is harder than you think.
Even when the supporting conditions are in place, there is a lack of business partners that can help to set up your business. In the Netherlands you can really focus on the niche you found and outsource everything that does not add unique value to the core of your idea. Not so in Nepal. Starting a poultry processing factory? You will be the first, and you will have to find out how to develop, run and optimise the whole process. Good luck. Selling and installing solar panels? You’ll have to hire foreign expertise, develop accompanying financial products new to Nepal and learn yourself how to install them yourself. There are just no partners who can take over parts of the value chain.
It isn’t that easy being an entrepreneur in Nepal. Only those with an inexhaustible enthusiasm will succeed, and that’s exactly the reason why the entrepreneurs we have met might be successful.