Chitwan’s first-ever Business Incubation I-Cube program has been concluded on a successful mark, with the support of the enthusiastic local government, business chambers, academia and provincial entrepreneurs. The buildout of the I-Cube program in Province 5 was successfully conducted by Nepal Communitere and Antarprerana in collaboration with the Chitwan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), Nepalese Youth Entrepreneurs Forum (NYEF) – Chitwan and Presidency College of Management Sciences. The official graduation of the I-Cube startups was celebrated with a Demo Day event that took place on February 12, 2020, at CCCI’s premises. Local investors notably pledged approximately 30 lakhs in seed funding to support the five graduating start-ups!
Nepal Communitere initiated the I-Cube program back in 2018 with a prime motive to foster innovation and strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit in Nepal. As a result, the program is designed to support early-stage entrepreneurs with the necessary training and coaching to be investment-ready and connect them with domestic seed investors, low-interest bank loans and other sources of finance. The program provides emerging startups with monthly masterclasses such as Human-Centred Design (HCD), Lean Business Canvas (LBC) and Sales Strategy to shape their startups into a more sustainable business. One-on-one strategic business coaching sessions and a network of industry experts and technical consultants are made available to support the entrepreneurs.
This time, the Demo Day event in Chitwan celebrated the entrepreneurial journey of eight local entrepreneurs, with five of the startups pitching to potential seed investors from different parts of Nepal like Kathmandu, Butwal, Nepalgunj, Hetauda and Chitwan. With more than 200 invitees to encourage the young entrepreneurs, this event brought together stakeholders and interested individuals who believe in developing Chitwan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The graduates of the rigorous six-month-long business incubation program were: Book Kinbech that sells new and used books online; Malpot.com that links buyers, sellers and renters for real estate services; Niure Pashu Bikash Farm that sells hormone-free dairy products; Smart Home and Security Solution that equips homes with secure, automated and efficient safety systems and Ujjyalo Bijuli Marmat that offers 24 hours on call electrical service by certified electricians. The participants for the incubation program were selected through a competitive and open process. The major criteria for their selection were based on their coachability and commitment to grow their business to the next level, which is not easy in a community where the majority of young promising Nepalis are migrating out. Each startup was provided with a local mentor and business coach who guided the entrepreneurs to solve their business challenges and meet their set milestones.
Ms Shraddha Shakya, the Project Manager of Antarprerana began the event with a welcome speech where she highlighted the overall journey of the I-Cube program in Chitwan. She emphasized how the program helped to create a well-built network for the entrepreneurs to access knowledge, information and skills from experts. Similarly, as a Key Note Speaker, Om Raj Bhandari, Chairman at Brihat Investments Pvt. Ltd. and at Antarprerana, shared his insight on the importance of entrepreneurship for the mobilization of the national capital and the creation of a sustainable economy. Concluding the event, Antarprerana’s CEO, Mr Niraj Khanal shared final remarks stressing the importance of the community coming together to develop the ecosystem and support startups through business incubation programs and mobilizing investors.
Likewise, Uttam Marahatta, CEO of Ujyalo Bijuli, recalling the six-month-long incubation journey, shared how the cohort is now able to leverage their network for their business, such as expanding team and selling the products to more customers. In 2020 the I-Cube Program will be rolling out to Butwal, so keep your eyes open for more exciting updates!