Nepal Communitere was launched back in 2015 following the most significant disaster to hit Nepal in recent history – the Great Quake of April 2015. Prior to this disaster the country was already seeing a significant increase in young entrepreneurs eager to build their own businesses. It was therefore no surprise to know that Nepal was eager and ready for a Community Resource Center to strengthen innovation and support entrepreneurship.
Two years later we are grateful for the opportunity to launch into the work we’ve always wanted to do – cultivate grassroots innovators into successful entrepreneurs through our new I3 Business Incubation Program. I3 or “I-Cube” highlights the three pillars to this holistic program – Innovate, Iterate and Incubate. We’re inviting 12 small to medium companies to join us on this journey to build the necessary infrastructure to grow and become sustainable.
With regular bootcamps, hack-a-thons and Startup Weekends there is immense energy to help generate brilliant new ideas and concepts for emerging entrepreneurs. Nepal’s startup ecosystem was being formed by entrepreneurs self-manufacturing their products on a smaller scale without any support infrastructure. Soon afterwards we saw several business accelerators popping up, set up mainly by different investment companies based in Nepal to get these companies investment ready. However, in a system filled with regulatory hurdles, there was a need for organizations that would offer long term support and put the entrepreneurs first.
As entrepreneurs were quickly jumping from startup stage to business accelerators, both investors and entrepreneurs soon realized that this ecosystem was missing a critical component, business incubation. Nepal Communitere identified a need to provide meaningful business incubation to coach and mentor entrepreneurs and allow them the space and the time to truly build their businesses. Through our I3 Program businesses are able to develop and implement everything from a solid business plan to a transparent organizational and administrative framework and clear branding and marketing strategies allowing them to take on large investments when they are ready.
Currently, in the market, there are many players that cater to different needs of the entrepreneurs, however, the organizations act as stand-alone with limited collaborations between them. Nepal Communitere is fortunate to be partnering with one of the most successful business accelerators in Nepal, Rockstart Impact. This partnership will link incubation with acceleration creating a pipeline of solid companies who are prepared and have the infrastructure for growth. Rockstart Impact attracts a total of 200 applications from which it selects the top 10 companies and has to reject the rest since they are just one step too early for acceleration. This highlighted the fact that entrepreneurs are in the need of a program that comes one step earlier in the pipeline of acceleration and investment, and focuses on incubation.
This year, Nepal Communitere’s I3 Incubation Program is being launched in partnership with Rockstart Impact to support entrepreneurship development in Nepal. This UKaid-funded collaboration will focus on business incubation and acceleration, it will also actively nurture and support high potential companies for growth, via incubation, acceleration and investment. Rabi Rayamajhi from DFID Nepal believes that “this collaboration will help early stage businesses access growth capital to create new jobs”.
The I3 Incubation Program and Rockstart Impact will provide entrepreneurs with critical coaching and mentoring needed for business development, along with other tools that are required to grow their business to the next level. The overall goal of this program is to support high potential entrepreneurs and link them to domestic and international growth capital. The Director of Nepal Communitere, Bahar Kumar, states “we are excited to finally be able to fill a gap within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nepal by providing meaningful business incubation services to inspiring entrepreneurs and set them up for true success!”.
We have to keep in mind that no matter how many organizations there are in the market supporting entrepreneurs and competing between each other, there is one and only stakeholder that these programs should focus on: the entrepreneur. No matter if it is a bootcamp, incubation program, angel investor network or investment fund, they all exist because of the entrepreneurs. The Program Director of Rockstart Impact, Victoria Ous, shares, “This partnership is a good example of a beautiful initiative between different organizations to help out entrepreneurs at various stages of development in Nepal. It’s time for accelerators, incubators, and NGOs to put aside their egos and unite in order to be able to better cater to the needs of the entrepreneurs. Together we can achieve a greater impact.”
The applications for the programs are open from 1st of August 2017 to 5th of October 2017 (midnight). Out of all the applicants, 22 companies will be selected in total for the entrepreneurship development programs. These companies will be divided in two groups: twelve companies will be incubated for one year at Nepal Communitere’s I3 Incubation Program, before joining the pipeline of companies for further business development and/or investment. Ten of the companies will go straight into the 100 days acceleration program Rockstart Impact. The application for both programs is available online.