September has been a month of deep reflection for us at Nepal Communitere. Our team took time to pause, and determine what our true value add is for the diverse community of users we serve. Being an innovation hub requires us to continuously be adaptive and relevant while at the same time remain community driven. Some things are winding down like Nepal Communitere’s I-Cube Business Incubation Program, while other projects are moving into high gear. In March 2020, Nepal Communitere will be launching the first Nepal Fab Lab equipped with 3D printers, CNC cutters and other sophisticated digital fabrication machinery. Undoubtedly, our dynamic hub is experiencing it’s next phase of evolution. With this type of change comes part excitement– over new possibilities to innovate. Part trepidation, as we build and design more opportunities the impact of which are largely unknown. Yet full passion; always with a 110% commitment and ownership from our end to create something of value for our communities.
In total, the I-Cube Program will have incubated a total of 20 Nepali startups and linked 7 of them to much needed financing.
After almost 2 years of continuous pushing through, Nepal Communitere as an organization was keen to understand what this value was. To gather meaningful learnings and determine the impact we’re making in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, our team enrolled into an online course by Acumen focused on ‘Lean Data’. It was incredibly fulfilling to look over the data from the past two years and discover that our I-Cube startups helped create 16 new jobs to date! 85% of our Year 1 entrepreneurs said the I-Cube program exceeded their expectations and 100% would recommend I-Cube to other entrepreneurs. Two of our startups were able to raise 33 lakhs in seed funding by engaging 22 individual investors, with fund administration support and post-investment mentorship by SAFAL Partners. By the end of 2019, Nepal Communitere will have not only have supported it’s first cohort at the Chitwan I-Cube Program in partnership with Antarprerana, but the incubation program will continue under the leadership of local stakeholders including the Chitwan Chamber of Commerce and a designated steering committee. In total, the I-Cube Program will have incubated a total of 20 Nepali startups and linked 7 of them to much needed financing. Wow!
So when asked “are Nepali startups ready?” during the recent Neftalk panel conducted by the Nepal Economic Forum, I paused. Then my answer was a loud and clear YES! Yes we all know that more than 95% of startups fail, but we rarely hear that 80% of incubated startups don’t fail. We made a bold ask of stakeholders present at the event: invest in community-based, quality business incubation programs for early stage startups. Business incubation is resource intensive and needs public and private partnerships to make it sustainable and accessible to promising and dedicated Nepali entrepreneurs.
Whether it’s incubation services, seed investment or the need to cultivate female leadership – Nepal Communitere has boldly taken and owned its seat at the table.
September has also been a time to not only to pause and reflect on our accomplishments but also to recognize our assets as an organization. When our communities asked us why or how we became a female-dominated organization, we realized we do have a unique leadership style and organizational culture. We’re still not sure if that can be attributed to our female face. However, one thing we have understood is that the entrepreneurial ecosystem is very heavily male dominated and whether it’s incubation services, seed investment or the need to cultivate female leadership – Nepal Communitere has boldly taken and owned its seat at the table.
As we look ahead to this new chapter, Nepal Communitere will explore working with female entrepreneurs in our next I-Cube cohort and engaging female investors. Keep an eye out for this, and more new and exciting initiatives in the pipeline. As always, we invite you all to join us in this movement as bold change-makers and creative problem solvers. In the words of our very own team member, I-Cube Champion Anil Parajuli, “The Best is Yet to Come!”