How do we serve our very own 5 Billion dollar investors in Nepal?

We get  more than 5 billion US dollars (was 3.5 billion dollars in 2011) from remittance. Compare this with only US $500 million or so of investment from foreigners. Yet we treat this noble group like third class humans.  

यहि लेख नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोस

“A Nepali returns from Arab for a month to finally meet his family after two long years, He arrives at our Tribhuvan International Airport at night, where he is first put on a long line of Nepali, interrogated by officials. The customs officer scans through his bags like a vulture looking for an excuse to exhort on the gifts bought for his family. Mentally drained, he finally comes out. The taxis outside are waiting for him. They demand, “Give us Rs 1500 to go to Gongabu (bus station).” This is more than what he spends on the bus ride from Kathmandu to his village. He sighs and pays up. After only 3 weeks with his family, he is forced to run to Kathmandu to get a new passport. He waits out in long lines, in heat, pollution and stench. On his way back to Arab, they humiliate him again at the airport. As he boards the plane, he breathes a sigh of relief. He won’t be back for another two years.”

Is this how you treat a community that invests more than 5 billion US dollars into the Nepali economy?

So how could we serve this group well, and make this a win-win?

Here’s a start.

  1. • Lets start with the government - remove regulations. Demand insurance from manpower (staffing) agencies so all Nepali who work abroad have insurance to protect them. At the foreign ministry, make a special fast track application process. Handle all their official works within half a day. Enable getting passport from districts easier. Make a special VIP line at our airport exclusively for them. Make them feel they are the reasons our country isn’t bankrupt. Show pre-departure videos on what life will be like outside Nepal, what their rights and responsibilities are. Teach them how to contact the nearest embassy or consulate.
  2. • Work to change your officials habits to deal with them like they do with “kuhires.” Work with a private company with excellent customer service credentials to offer reliable, direct transportation from Kathmandu Airport to other major towns.
  3. • Manpower companies, start providing cheap, affordable insurance for every worker you send abroad. Offer it in installments. You can surely make a profit by the volume.
  4. • Social workers, connect their families with skills like sewing, knitting, running a small shop etc. Do recommend them on ways to protect the money sent home. Wasting it on a big LCD television in 14 hour electricity free Nepal is not ideal, is it?
  5. • Entrepreneurs, interact more with this group. Understand through them, their families problems. Then build an opportunity to fix their common pain.
  6. For our financial institutions, prioritize their families. Advise them on investments and entrepreneurial opportunities through your institution. These are safe earners who send money back regularly – many of them probably through your bank. Maybe even offer high interest bond instruments for them to buy, that yields in 5 years. You have an enviable opportunity here. Look towards using their ideas in Nepali industries to improve efficiency, safety and quality. Remember these Nepali are building the next generation World Cup stadiums in Qatar by 2020.

Ultimately, this becomes a win-win for all.

“Imagine the same humiliated Nepali returning home in 2 years.

He walks out of the airport and goes through a fast-track service to process his paperwork. He is warmly thanked by this welcoming official, wishes him a happy stay with his family and is directed to a counter inside the airport to buy a ticket to go home to his town. He is escorted to a direct express bus outside the airport that is taking him and 50 others like him. He directly goes home without the hassles of Kathmandu and spends time with his family. To renew his passport, he goes to his local office and gets a new passport in 1 hour.

He is happy to be back home. With the money he was sending home and installment he was paying, he now has a better house, his wife runs a small store through a loan from the bank she went to get remittance money. With the savings this man was making with the bank, he now has a high interest bond that will yield high returns starting next year. With this money and his new-found skills in the Arab world, the man wonders whether he has to return back to the 50 degree heat in Arab. He wonders – with a good house, working wife, money in the bank and my new-found skills – maybe I can start a small factory here in Nepal! ”

Only when we learn to treat our own (5+ billion rupees investing customer) with dignity, will the world will invest in Nepal. How we treat our remittance workers tells them how we treat other “investors”. If they don’t like what they see, they will invest their money somewhere where people respect “investors”.

Passport information in front of the Ministry of Foreign affairs, Nepal
Passport information in front of the Ministry of Foreign affairs, Nepal, 2011

Thank you to these friends, who inspired and helped me write this: Prasanna Dhungel, Ashutosh Tiwari, Sagar Onta, Bijaya Shiwakoti, Sanjib Subba, Bal Joshi.

यहि लेख नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोस
Was published in myrepublica April 6, 2011 & नेपालीमा यहि लेख र प्रतिक्रियाहरु in mysansar.com

Comments

  1. good idea…our airport service need serious change and so do most of our nepalese attitude..
    it would be great if we had employment opportunity of generating $3.5billion in our own country rather than going abroad and serving foreign nation. i am sure that nepalese working in foreign country have worked so hard that their work is worth more than $3.5billion.

  2. Good. Thought provoking ideas and rightly so.
    But if we drill down to the bottom of this it can be explained in 2 concise ideas:
    1. Respect for other fellow human (Nepali): I am not saying we Nepali don’t respect each other but there’s a lot we can improve on. We easily change our tone based on people’s complexion, attire and what not. We need to improve on this – a Nepali hardworking kancho from rural village going overseas to earn for his family deserves same amount of respect that’s easily given to some fake titled netas who rides a fancy car. This change will certainly take a while and it boils down to our upbringing, schooling and parenting.
    2. Making airport workers/officials accountable for their work: If they are not working properly and behaving in an undesirable way – they should be warned, demoted or fired. The level of incompetence among airport officials is alarming. Respecting fellow airport users and customers should be part of their daily norms. If someone can’t comply with that, he/she doesn’t deserve to work there. Period.

  3. Sad to hear your story. This is why we have to actively band together. Together we can ! We have to weave a thread around each positive Nepali so that we can work together in times of need.

  4. Seriously real scenario. Im working as a software engineer in Malaysia. On the day of my departure from Nepal, i thought i’d never be able to get here. I was interrogated so badly. First they stopped me at the entrance and said there’s no departure for Malaysia that day and later at security check they asked me to get the certificate of Engineering from Pulchowk Campus(IOE). With the fear of losing the flight, I rushed back to the luggage which i’d already sent for boarding, asked for the luggage, got the Certificate and showed to the security official. That was one moment when i thought i’d Never return back! The next time me with my friends planned to got tho Phuket for Holiday. Unfortunately we had to visit Nepalese Embassy to get the approval letter as Thai embassy demanded. The guy there hilariously suggested us not to go HOLIDAYS, as we were here to Earn and wont give a ‘L’ of a Letter. I’ve been quite not proud to say Im a Nepali. All i miss is my friends and famlily back there. God help us improve.

  5. Huncha. I am trying to print it in a nepali daily. when it is done I willrnpost here hai. Thanks !

  6. Inspiring!!Dai tara generally, our $3.5 Billion investors do not understand English,so maybe u could translate this thought provoking post into Nepali..??n

  7. A very thought provoking article. I applaud your innovative ideas! n

  8. Thanks Asis,rnThe new generation have to unite to bring a change ! together we can do it!

  9. its a very very day-to-day activities going on….thank u ujjwal sir for sharing these kind of innovative thoughts which are easy to implement and has a huge difference in itself………

  10. Thank you. keep contributing your thoughts ! we are all in this together.

  11. Thank you Supen. Appreciate your comments and Do throw in your ideas inrncomments in articles here . It helps me write better :)

  12. Brilliant article… I m regularly following your website and am really inspired.