Category Archives: entrepreneurship

topic on starting business and surviving as an entrepreneur in Nepal

Nepal wants more investments, not aid.


Until when will we carry the tag of a ‘beggar’ nation in the world?

This question haunts all of us who believe in building a prosperous ‘Nepal’ within our lifetime. Looking back at our history of ‘begging’, in the last 60 years one can safely deduce that foreign aid has not delivered. Tragically, it has instilled in the mindset of Nepalis the culture of ‘begging’. Our fierce human wish to be self-sustained, dignified and entrepreneurial has been handicapped by this very culture of begging, exacerbated by decades of foreign aid (easy money). Today there remains only two options for a Nepali; either continue being addicted to foreign aid and keep begging for more, or take the detoxifying path to regain dignity and self reliance through entrepreneurship fostered by investments for Nepal.

Nepali society can never lift itself out of poverty if our leadership continues to embrace this culture of ‘abject’ begging. Our leadership’s attitude and the subsequent system it has built accepts donors as gods. This has created a extractive model of opaque (non-transparent), corrupt and unequal donor driven society. The government and non-governmental institutions engineered around foreign aid have in the last five decades remained largely unanswerable to the people of Nepal (It is been 14 years since we had any locally elected officials-leaders to guide us). Our rulers have consistently over-promised and under-delivered specially when it comes to use of foreign aid. One simple proof lies in the much hyped earthquake preparedness campaign with the help of millions of dollars of foreign aid. Look where it got us!

When the bigger 1934 earthquake happened, there was no foreign aid yet we Nepalis managed to rebuild our heritage, our homes and our neighborhoods ! The current calamity has given us pause to reflect inside at our own shortcomings and not look outside. So it is time to use the help we receive abroad in specifically creating opportunities and skills as investments, otherwise the the foreign aid that we have to know and accept, will simply going to protect the current extractive institutions that are designed to extract incomes, wealth and power from the rest of us to help themselves. The world has had enough testimonials of how foreign aid has actually kept third world countries from achieving prosperity by sustaining incompetent rulers and the institutions that it seeks to protect. Sadly Nepal has not been an exception.

That is why to guide Nepal towards prosperity, we simply need more investment not aid. And investment is not possible without a conducive environment which only locally elected accountable government can deliver. So if we continue down this road of giving more aid to an unaccountable aid addicted Nepal, this young republic which has been born out of such agonizing pain will again collapse in the evil of poverty, inequality and hopelessness.

It was not the 7.8 richter earthquake but political leaderships and the government systems they have nurtured who bear the responsibility for this post April 25th disaster. They never paid any attention to the countless warnings and didn’t prepare anything to ward off this disaster even after receiving foreign aid of tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars for earthquake preparedness!

This is not the time to cash on the crisis and make us beggars once more. It is time to open Nepal up for investments and bring in much needed skills and knowledge to our nation. Nepali youths have already stepped forward to lead the country out of this mess. We believe this is the time to sprint on a road towards self reliance. That is why, before we look outside we need to see inside (to cure our addiction for easy corrupting money). Let our first priority be to use the resources of fellow Nepalis and building an investment friendly environment in Nepal. We Nepalis want to own the process of reconstruction and resurgence of Nepal. Any help from friends of Nepal flatly rests on whether it enhances the dignity of citizens and whether it creates direct opportunities and builds knowledge skills for Nepalis to thrive in the 21st century world.

In light of the donors conference of June 25, 2015, we urge Nepal government to strictly seek investment and no aid. Post-earthquake Nepal is at a fundamental crossroads. Will we finally start hacking at the roots of evil or continue cutting its branches only? Do we choose to stay a nation of beggars or be creators of a prosperous Nepal (in our life-time)?

Thank you for choosing.


Kathmandu valley 2030

Kathmandu Valley voted the most beautiful city in the world!

Version 1.0.



“Kathmandu Valley voted the most beautiful city in the world of 2030!” – Time Magazine.

Time magazine’s 2030 year-end cover page has just labeled Kathmandu Valley as the “Shining Pearl” of Asia! The world news media is abuzz with disbelief. “How could this city, shaken to the core by a terrible 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015, transform to such a beauty within 15 years? What is Kathmandu’s secret here?”

The magazine presents 10 convincing reasons from the world’s respected urban planners and city living legends who overwhelmingly voted, “Kathmandu Valley as the most beautiful city in the world in 2030.”

1. Kathmandu: The servant government city.
2. Kathmandu: A city of contradictions.
3. Kathmandu: The greenest city in the world?
4. Kathmandu: The living heritage city.
5. Kathmandu: The ‘recycle it all’ city.
6. Kathmandu: The city that never sleeps…
7. Kathmandu: An energy+ city.
8. Kathmandu: City of wanderlust.
9. Kathmandu, A city of common-sense.
10. Kathmandu, The start-up capital of Asia!


  1. Kathmandu: The servant government city.

“As I step into a local municipality (ward) office that, from the outside, looks distinctly 18th century aristocratic palace, carved in wood illustrating Nepali historical and mythological events, I am surprised to find myself entering a futuristic lobby adorned with beautiful paintings and sculptures representing Nepal’s various ethnic communities. Further along a big poster hangs on straight ahead “Democracy = Transparency.” Just a few steps further another one provokes, “Your Government, Your Servant. 

A ‘customer care’ officer greets me with a customary bow, ‘Namaste, How may I help you?’ There are no papers here. All essential processes from citizenship documents to marriage certificates to land taxes are all processed electronically. Housing checks and permits are scheduled online. After hearing my request he escorts and introduces me to the elected representative of the municipality..  She politely invites me to sit down and asks, “Would you like a cup of freshly brewed Nepali organic coffee while we look up the information you are interested in?”

In 2030, Kathmandu is world-renowned  for adopting the 21st century servant governmentmodel for accountability and transparent local governance. Regular local elections, efficient and inclusive local management of resources, disaster preparedness along with transparency and zero tolerance for corruption has led to a win-win partnership between citizens, businesses and the government. The local government officials offer quick hassle-free services with their ready use of information technology. Locals regularly seek and get information on their city’s governance through the simple yet powerful “Right to Information” act holding business, organization and local bodies accountable. Any information not delivered within 48 hours is addressed by Nepal’s swiftly implemented law. Citizen journalism has enhanced mainstream journalism. Public shunning and boycotting of corrupt people and their business/organizations have become social norms. Local taxes are transparently collection, managed and locally distributed by ingenious prioritizing such as online polling. Every tax rupee is directly tied to projects so that each local knows where and when her tax was spent.

This all began when a virtuous cycle was set in motion after that terrible earthquake in 2015 as an empowered citizenry started working together integrating technology, civic sense and youth volunteerism. This started a trend of efficient service of high quality from a reimagined public service system which was overwhelmingly populated  by young professionals trained on 21st century governance ideals and the appointment of locally elected leaders in key positions. The powerful autonomous government body, “Nepal Resurgence Board,” constituted in 2015 with its army of urban planners in Kathmandu, helped speed up reconstruction of policies and infrastructures in and around the valley.

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘My Government, My Servant!’

  1. Kathmandu: A city of contradictions.

As I step out of my galli (alley), I find myself walking on a colorful pavement in a neighborhood whose walls come alive with vibrant graffiti's. I could spend hours wandering here, as I see a range  of artistic expressions all the way from meticulous thanka-style spiritual paintings, beautiful sculptures to something that looks like an attempt by a five-year old… Each galli seems to personify the face of that neighborhood. In Kathmandu, I am often given directions to neighborhoods not by street addresses but by these unique landmarks and motifs which changes with each corner you turn! This city truly is a walking contradiction, a beautiful collage of diversity.”

Local municipalities (tole) of 2030 have built a tradition of citizens adopting each galli (alley) of the city. They all seem to be in an endless race to outdo each other to keep up a record of the best managed and designed roads, parks, public toilets, bus parks, cycle lanes and more; using the “adopt-a-tole” model. Communities take ownership of the immediate road (& public space) in front of them. They name, beautify, and support it themselves. The municipality’s autonomous infrastructure maintenance body works with the Mayor directly to help local community members build not just roads but  community infrastructures like parks and public toilets. The citizens have also taken responsibility for the greenery in their neighborhoods. By actively collaborating with their local municipality under the ‘servant government’ system, the public infrastructures are now 100% accessible to 100% of the citizens for 100% of the time. Kathmandu seems to have internalized the essence of chaos theory and its brilliant urban planners came up with a way to build a city, emulating the rules of organized chaos, making this an exciting city where no two places are alike. In fact Kathmandu prides itself on its contradictions.

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘My Neighborhood, My Responsibility!’

  1. Kathmandu: The greenest city in the world?

“ As I step out of the airport, I am welcomed by gentle breeze and the fragrance of fresh-cut grass. I travel towards the city in  a taxi that runs on clean electricity. I roll down the windows to enjoy the roads abuzz with bicycles and pedestrians. I pass by many community parks where children are running around with their dogs. Clear, stylish, wearable technology responsive signboards are everywhere guiding you to the history and urban legends of the city. Those concrete or brick walls have long been replaced with trees and hedges. As I pass by, I can’t help notice that plants and trees seem to be integrated into building designs themselves. I come across the jewel of the city, the Central Park of Kathmandu (a stretch of greenery that connects the  former Royal palace grounds  all the way to the Dasharath Stadium).
I step out and walk around. In this vastness, young people are immersed in making music, girls are jogging, a rap battle going on steps away and further along people playing cricket, football and more. Family of three generations are on a cozy picnic under massive trees. A flock of birds make their way through the blue skies. It makes any outsider wonder, “Why can’t my city be like this?”

Starting from 2015, Kathmandu started turning all its open spaces into self-sustainable, accessible green spaces and ponds while converting all the hills around the valley into national parks and wildlife reserves. By 2030, it held the distinguished reputation of being the greenest city of the world. This has enabled students, children, and the elderly to relax, play and enjoy nature to the fullest. Open spaces around spiritual places like Pashupati,  Swayambhu, Changu Narayan, Boudha, Basantapur, Patan and Bhaktapur now have clean, elegant, vibrant  gardens and ponds. “Plant a tree before you die” ethos has helped reduce pollution turning Kathmandu into a beautiful, livable tranquil abode. The former royal palace ground is linked to Rani Pokhari, Tudikhel and Dasarath Stadium becoming a humongous lush green park for the city of Kathmandu to relish, rivaling that of New York’s Central Park.

Kathmandu in 2030 holds the distinction of being among the most bicycle-friendly city of the world and brands itself as a bicycle-preferred city. There are dedicated disability, walking and cycle friendly lanes on all major roadways and galli’. There is even a special tax rebate for those who decide not to own fossil fuel vehicles.  By 2030, Kathmandu has set a global example by allowing alternative energy public vehicles to become the primary means of transportation on and below the streets of Kathmandu. Real-estate builders are given tax breaks to build ‘green plus energy homes’ and penalized for making energy negative buildings and infrastructure. Quality of air/water (environment) has become a fundamental human right of utmost  political importance. Since leadership is penalized during elections depending on the air pollution index, authorities are particularly sensitive to any deterioration on its globally adapted environmental KTM-2100 Protocol. Many Kathmandu folks work from their homes or nearby cafes and parks. Pedaling, walking or public transport make for the bulk of transportation in this city which has just been voted as the world’s most breathable city. The banks along the twin rivers of Bagmati and Bishnumati are a popular space for hanging out, pedaling, leisurely drives and a bird lover’s heaven! All this has enabled Kathmandu arguably as the greenest city in the world.

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the greenest city of them all?’

  1. Kathmandu: The living heritage city.

“Making my way through the narrow alleys, I chance upon small temples and monuments in every corner, some filled with erotic, wooden sculptures, others with intricate metal carvings on doors that simply blows my mind. One can never be certain what wonders the very next turn might hold for you. The evolution of centuries of work, molding with the state of the art technologies of the day, makes this a sight for me to comprehend. Add the warm smile lighting up on the faces of every Nepali I meet, tells me that this smiley city is singularly content."

What city boasts a thousand Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Christian, Sikh temples within breathing distance from each other? Furthermore Kathmandu folks have rediscovered their own brand of spirituality by rediscovering their calling to “treat guests as god!” Kathmandu is an enlightened city of tolerance where major religious and spiritual practices are intricately interwoven not just in people’s minds and lives but also in every aspect of the city’s planning. Since that terrible quake in 2015, Kathmandu folks have re-discovered their commitment to build a monument for each family member that departs. This has made Kathmandu a city of a thousand temples whose stories are told to the children in far corners of the world!

One strong reason for Kathmandu valley to regain such glory has been the fact that its citizens decided to not just rebuild the heritage destroyed by the 2015 quake, but went one step further by rediscovering their burning talent as architects, creators and builders. Kathmandu’s heritage has been its collection of 1,000+ year of amazing architecture, history, fusion of 100+ ethnic cultures, life-lessons based on simplicity, trade, creativity, communal living, and local ingenuity. Add to this, the new found obsession of the post-earthquake generation to outmatch the creativity of the past. Buildings in Kathmandu are only permitted to be built/retained if they pass the strict and holistic KTM-9 building codes (designed to withstand 9 richter scale).

Kathmandu is a mega-city that is constantly shaped and reshaped by competing townships (municipalities) within it, that continuously try to outdo each other on style and innovation, while never straying from that common value, “you reap what you sow.”

Kathmandu folks have finally learnt from their past to not just keep but also to evolve and enhance their heritage. The current generation, aptly named “the bridge-builders” took up the challenge 15 years ago to be the ones to march Kathmandu to become an actively mutating heritage city the world has come to hold in awe. The decade old “Nepal Living Heritage University” has pioneered a disruptive education system that brings Nepalis and students from around the world to experiment on holistic living, planning and engineering. Based on the lessons learned from that terrible 2015 earthquake, they have gone on to build a unique disaster resistant urban planning model (a hybrid of the rich heritage of the valley and modern style).  They are exporting this interdisciplinary knowledge around the world like their ancient hero “Araniko” did in the 13th Century.

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘(Leave behind) a monument of love before you die.’

  1. Kathmandu: The ‘recycle it all’ city

"As I step out of a heritage boutique homestay I rented in Bungmati, a green notification on my device informed me that I had received money back for the waste I had recycled for the month. It gave me my three preferred options: add it to my bank account, donate it evenly to the 3 causes I love or invest it all in a government owned “Nepal resurgence fund” that is building a mega infrastructure project designed to create a million jobs over the course of next 5 years.”

By  working with entrepreneurs, Kathmandu has figured out how to recycle, reuse and turn (any) waste and even generate profits. Locals generate money out of their own waste. Household items are encouraged to be sold, bartered or rented out. Online-offline auction melas (sites) remain popular sites for many Kathmandu citizens to hang-out. Each year, Kathmandu hosts an annual “Recycle it all’ challenge for the world’s best innovators.

Garden and roof-top farming has thrived thanks to the household practice of using their own organic waste and waste water from the kitchen and rainwater/dew water harvesting is the primary supply for drinking water. Folks use their (reusable) safety tanks instead of pumping their waste to the sewage systems which have long gone dry.

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘You reap what you throw!

  1. Kathmandu: The city that never sleeps…

“At 10 in the evening, I get a message from a friend to meet her in the old city to discuss an exciting idea she wants to pursue in a possible venture. I step out on a brightly lit street in Lazimpat, and decide to walk comfortably through  alleys. Citizen-run ‘Neighborhood watches’  ensures that you feel secure in their area. I chance upon few kids drawing graffiti on the streets and a bicycle police casually stops by to give the kids tips on how to improve their work-in-progress. I pass through the night markets at Ason and revel at the sight of locals and tourists bargaining, recreating a scene that probably goes back centuries. I check out a new alley that promises a shortcut to where I want to go. A young woman comes jogging out of a narrow alley and smiles as she passes by. I google her face. I am ‘pretty’ sure she is doing the same on me!”

If you think Kathmandu of 2030 is beautiful at day, dare I say it’s even more beautiful at night. Every corner of this city is reachable within a thirty minute drive. Kathmandu is blessed with beautiful weather throughout the year. By 2016, Kathmandu folks learned it was just plain stupid to close down their energetic city by 8 in the evening so they started to invest in rapid public transport systems (elegantly adapted and improved from what they saw in Bogota, Colombia). This now runs 24/7 and 365 days a year, getting rid of traffic congestions while ensuring safe, convenient and reliable transportation options for all. This was a win-win situation for the local, the tourist, the small entrepreneur, the street vendor, the street-side cafes, the taxis and the youths. A city that is awake all the time, reverberates with more ideas and innovation, infusing creativity into our culture once more. A 24-hour open city has created a separate brand of Kathmandu as a youthful, friendly, safe, business-friendly city full of positive vibes.  Families regularly enjoy their moments at the well-lit ‘spiritual’ parks while a happening night-life exists just a block away. Ask any citizen anything and they jump to “guide” you to a solution, a token example of the legendary warmth and generosity Nepalis are known for. Is this the reason Kathmandu repeatedly comes on as one of the top 10 places to disappear for a few days.

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘My City:  Active, Alive, Always!’


  1. Kathmandu: An energy+ city.

“As I walk back home from my office in Bhaktapur, I am notified of an increase in my bank balance. I am in for a nice surprise. I had just earned enough from my sale of surplus solar energy to afford for a quiet dinner with my family at that elegant restaurant along the brightly lit banks of Bagmati as planned.”

Who would have thought just 15 years ago, a city with no electricity for up to 16 hours a day would transform into an energy plus city glowing with surplus “clean energy.” A critical mass of Kathmandu folks in early 2015 decided that they had an alternate source they could tap into: abundant solar energy.  With strong sunshine almost all year round, Kathmandu is a fertile ground for solar energy. Harnessing this power that shines for almost 12 hours a day has turned each house into electricity producers and a surplus seller. Energy conservation remains a top priority as citizens still remember those ‘loadshedding’ yester-years and their responsibility to mitigate the global warming menace that is battering coastal and mountain cities around the world. They have decreed that all electrical products have to pass the strict ‘KTM-2100-Green” standards or else the businesses are ‘socially’ boycotted. Clean energy and energy conscious citizens duly transformed Kathmandu into an energy hip, energy rich, positively energized city!

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘Bright tole, enlightened soul.


  1. Kathmandu: City of wanderlust.

“As I wander around aimless in my newly bought ‘hatti chaap’ branded shoes, I feel a sudden rush of wanderlust. I wander around the city allowing my eyes to feast upon the surprises at each turn. Time loses its meaning as my brain is mesmerized by the strong emotions evoked by Kathmandu’s alley ways and the crisp blue skies above. The myriads of intriguing  cultures keeps me raw and alive! Imagine a shaman’s shop right next door to a doctor’s office. Finest arabica coffee shops tucked inside 100 year old mansions. During my  week long vacation, I have made it a point to lose myself by wandering back in time in the interiors of  the three historic cities of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. Then, off I travel to the exteriors of the valley’s lush green hills, hopping from one village to another while taking in the sights of the majestic Himalayas to the north.”

With its year-round fantastic weather, Kathmandu is a haven for any wanderlust. With its stimulating, serpentine alleys, back streets full of blast from the past, and welcoming cafes around each corner, Kathmandu has become THE perfect place to lose yourself. In-fact ‘wanderlust’ (losing yourself in aimless wandering) has become ‘THE thing to do’ for travelers from all around the world. From wandering off to the towering 2,000 meter lush green mountains (locals call them ‘hills’) around the valley to watching the tallest mountains of the world and strolling by the centuries-old architecture and culture, Kathmandu has become all about pausing and rewinding yourself in this “distracted-fast forwarding” world, a city of wanderlust.”

Citizen’s Mantra: ‘Wander in Kathmandu to find yourself.


  1. Kathmandu: A city of common sense.

“A city filled with common sense? Really? Just 15 years ago when I walked in this very city, bandhs (forced strikes) had been a regular abomination. A city that would be shut down on the whim of a politician, a thug or a few rowdy locals, with tens of thousands of demoralized police helplessly watching as mobs ran rampant. Who would have thought common sense would again prevail in Kathmandu? I look around today.This city is now open, humble, safe and inviting! It seems, Common-sense prevails on and off the streets.”

After the earthquake in 2015, citizens adopted a zero-tolerance policy against Bandhs and started actively supporting local police and youth groups to make sure all of Kathmandu Valley to be a bandh-free zones. Political forces which encouraged bandhas were taught a painful lessons in the elections. Common-sense charters popped up in neighborhoods making a new social norm that focused on social ostracizing for all who dare to stray. Humility, empathy, civic sense and integrity remains the corner-stone of a set of ‘common-sense’ values practiced by every citizen here and taught to every child. “Common-sense education” seems to be the cornerstone of education in all primary schools improved upon by “civic-sense education” system in secondary schools in Kathmandu. People of all genders and age feel safe and dignified to go about their daily business, anywhere and anytime because they know that common sense prevails all around.

Citizen’s mantra: ‘Common sense IS common (in Kathmandu)  


  1. Kathmandu, the start-up capital of Asia!

As I step inside a cafe recommended by a friend, I see photo frames of handshakes and hugs between renowned artists-innovators-investors on the walls. I have been told this cafe has turned many crazy ideas into a prosperity generating engines. Positivity is in the air. The locals and the foreigners here seem to be talking about ideas, plans, dreams and teams. Language doesn’t seem to be a barrier as I must have heard at least 10 different languages in the last 10 minutes! I can’t help feel that I have come to the right place to infuse myself with ‘positivity’ and ‘passion’.

In 2030, entrepreneurship seems to be in everyone’s DNA in Kathmandu. The catastrophic earthquake of 2015 transformed a whole generation of Nepalis to be crisis managers, impulsive risk-takers and passionate doers. Empowering youths to innovate has been critical to injecting ‘vibrancy’ into Kathmandu. Localized, decentralized and effective and a million mentors strong network of ‘Entrepreneurs for Nepal built over the last 20 years has ensured a credible entrepreneurial ecosystems providing Nepali & Nepal centric entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills, and networks necessary to start and expand businesses. Local mentoring clubs in Kathmandu regularly match local youths with elders to shape their future. Venture funds, angel investors, impact funds and global community with ideas and guts have all poured into the city to tap into local talents. Innovation, competition and disruption is the name of the game! The explosion of this start-up culture has made Kathmandu into the “start-up” capital of Asia.

Citizen’s mantra: ‘Start-up, scale up, invest on or die trying

As I finish reading Time magazine article in the year 2030, I am still struck by this city’s remarkable transformation.  A news alert beeps on my device, “...In other news, Paris has just announced its plans to get technical support from  Kathmandu to revamp its city life.”



I would like to hear “your ideas” for building Kathmandu the most beautiful city in the world. Please post your thoughts below. Thank you BibekSheel Nepali Vision team and Srijana Chhetri, Sagar Onta, Raj Maharjan, Krishna Chhetri, Jagannath Kafle and more for helping.

12 ways you can help Nepal (post Earthquake)


Here are 12 ways  you can help Nepal stand up on its foot quickly and with dignity! (& Build Nepal 2.0)

1) Everyone: Make a solemn pledge to yourself, “I am #withNepal”.
2) Travelers: Organize your family/friends trip inside Nepal this Fall (Autumn).
3) Entrepreneurs: Work with super-talented IT business / freelancers of Nepal.
4) Sports organizers: Organize an International Football / Cricket competition in Nepal.
5) Musicians: Organize one “I am #withNepal” concert of international music bands in Pokhara, Nepal this autumn.
6) Investors: Build long term business incubators.
7) Educators: Support to start a “21st century leadership building academy.” By god, we need this in Nepal!
8) Mayors: Adopt a Village (Make a devastated village/town – your sister village/town).
9) Donors: demand local elections in #Nepal immediately. Local Governance is the “key”.
10) World Financiers: Please open “payment gateways” like paypal in Nepal. Make it affordable for now. (you will instantly create thousands of self-employed Nepalis)
11) Activists: Build tools to support activists to bring transparency in each aid related government or private work in Nepal.
12) Everyone: Don’t just donate. Start to invest.

If you are interested, I will personally help connect you to plenty of  right people and places here. A crisis should also be taken as an immense opportunity (to build a better Nepal 2.0 ).
Please add your recommendations below !

Entrepreneurial Engineers are bridge-builders to a prosperous Nepal

[This is a career advice to young engineers and those studying Engineering in Nepal]

As an Engineer you have one choice now:

“Either make your own dreams come true or you will be hired to make someone else’s dream come true.”

If you chose to make your dreams come true, do continue below:

Engineers have to become Entrepreneurs for Nepal

Why so? Because Entrepreneurs see opportunity in a problem. It could be any type of problem that we see in our everyday lives. Impure food, lack of electricity and petroleum, transportation, healthcare and many others. Problems that we experience, read of and hear in any area could become an entrepreneurial opportunity.

Problems can come in various flavors – the product – too expensive, scarce, difficult to use, slow etc. Nepalese outside urban centers do not have easy access to doctors. In Nepal, we suffer from long hours of power cuts in the winter months. Food is getting very expensive in the cities. We want the world’s best healthcare in Nepal, but may not have access to it, or afford it.

The harder this problem becomes, the better the opportunity for someone who can solve it.  If you are an engineer, know how to create a device that can generate wind power then, you can manufacture and sell that for cheap, this is a great opportunity here. Not many people can create this device, and once you are in customers’ homes, you can continue providing superior service and build a great business.

The larger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. A problem may only be for one person, or for many. If it is for one person, it – a one-time service and not a business opportunity. But if many people have the same problem, then it is a big entrepreneurial opportunity. For example, we all want to live in a well made house. However, we have serious building quality problems in earthquake prone Kathmandu now. This is a great business with a huge market as everyone can benefit from your excellent standards. If you can solve Kathmandu’s haphazard construction industry, with your business, you could be a billionaire. Plus, you would give service to millions and be thanked for the service you give.

Let us take examples of some famous entrepreneurs who were engineers, who have looked at a problem as an opportunity, built great businesses and changed the world and our lives.

In the 1970s , people did not have computers in their homes like we do today. You had to go to a large mainframe computer center and make a request to  have your work be done. There may have been one or a few large mainframes in our region and your task may have taken a long time. Businesses such as cheap international calling, which depend on fast and  cheap computers, were not around. It was hard and very expensive to make an international call. If your family member went overseas, you may have only spoken once every few months. Today, we are in a connected society in which we use Cisco, Intel, Google, Apple, Skype, Facebook and other technologies to stay connected in real-time.

In Nepal, look at how Bijay Rajbhandari and fellow engineers have transformed CE constructions into a quality brand known for its quality and timely delivery of its projects or how Rudra Pandey developed IT healthcare software company, D2Hawkeye and sold it for millions of dollars to Verisk in USA.

So I hope that you engineers start seeing an opportunity in the problems that we see everyday in our lives and start solving it (instead of waiting for Pashupatinath to come and fix it for us).

Entrepreneurial Engineers have to become bridge-builders of Nepal

Did you know, Nepali engineers were actively involved in building the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world in Dubai? Did you know that Nepali engineers are developing the next generational (rumor has it that they are air-conditioned) World cup stadiums in Qatar for 2022. I know many bright Nepalese working in Apple and Google. Yet, Nepal these days regularly begs for money to renovate its old temples or build bridges/roads/IT infrastructures from foreigners. We have rarely have built any engineering marvels (or any) since Bhimsen Thapa built the Dharahara. Ask yourself why?

This is because  we Nepali have chosen to become individually excellent, but collectively as a nation remained a failure. As an engineer, I urge you rise up to move beyond becoming individually excellent to build an environment for an excellent nation. To build such a nation, we have to rise up and beyond to bring the nation builders together. Will you become this “bridge” between nation builders ?

Certainly I am not talking about a plain bridge (made on roads or rivers). I am talking about a man or a woman who builds and safeguards a bridge (platform/environment) that will connect Nepal of today to the “nation builders” of tomorrow. As a bridge builder your role is simply to consistently and persistently align all the positives in Nepal, in the same direction, so that the negative will become irrelevant.

I believe, ‘bridge builders’ are the real leaders of Nepal. Bridge-builders could be someone just like you, talented men and women who decide to rise up to the challenge of building positive platforms for others to easily build the nation. Bridge-builders forgo their short-term benefits in exchange for a long-term inclusive benefits. Only, if you work towards building positive platforms, other nation builders can come in to build Nepal and protect your future and all our future.

As a young bright Engineer, you have the talent, skills and grit to become our nation’s leaders by becoming that “bridge-builder’ everyone is looking for. In the end, I leave you with this quote,

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” – Henry Thoreau

Ask yourself – Will you start hacking at the roots of evil in Nepal (or stick to hacking at the branches just like the thousands before you) ?



How to succeed at business in Nepal ?

There are many ways to entrepreneurial success. Here is one, if you are a first-time entrepreneur:

  1. Do NOT try to produce a totally new, new thing. The reason is simple. When you produce a totally new, new thing, you need a lot of money to educate the market about what your “new new” thing is. Educating the market is very expensive, both in terms of time and money.
  2. When you try to educate the market about your new, new product, you burn a lot of your precious capital. When you burn your capital (like the dot com companies did in the US in 1999), you may go out of business altogether.
  3. Adding insult to injury, as it often happens in Nepal, you may then have to watch late-comers succeed with the very idea that you came up with because you foolishly spent all your money educating the market about the new, new product for your future competitors to benefit from! [Believe us: nobody gives you a medal for being a “business saheed”!]
  4. Instead of trying to produce a totally new, new thing, look at an established industry where there are existing suppliers, competitors, customers, etc. In other words, as a first-time entrepreneur, choose a known industry.
  5. In that industry, think hard to find a niche (your new thing): see what the customers are looking for but not getting, and see whether you can find a way to meet their (unexpressed) demand. Finding your niche or your twist in a well-known industry lies at the heart of first-time entrepreneurship.
  6. Once you find your niche in a known industry, educating the market will not be that difficult. That’s because people already know your industry, they can generally understand what to expect, etc.
  7. Once you have identified your niche, then, find a way to put “a moat around it”, as Warren Buffet says. A moat refers to a large body of water (preferably with crocodiles) around a castle. A moat makes it difficult for others to attack the castle. If you think of your business as a castle, what should your moats be? Price? Brand? Location? High switching cost? Service?
  8. Do NOT worry about competition. All reasonable people want to copy good ideas. Having competition is good, because it validates you and your idea. If no one wants to copy you, be worried.
  9. Even with a niche and a moat, how do you know what works? You don’t. Therefore, experiment small, fail fast, learn quickly, and change course to continuously scale up.
  10. In the back of your mind, always ask yourself these four questions, and try to have answers:
    1. What compelling reason exists for people to give you money to buy your product or service?
    2. How do you get what you are selling for less than it costs to sell it?
    3. How will strangers find out about the business and decide to become customers?
    4. What insulation (moat) do you have from commoditization (“just like what everyone has”) and price war (coming from competitors)?

This is a guest post by Ashutosh Tiwari (Some of the materials may have been collected from other sources).