Swedish IT social entrepreneur in Nepal, Bjőrn Sőderberg

Bjőrn Sőderberg, 28, is a young social entrepreneur with three successfully running companies, two in Nepal and one in Sweden.

In search of something exciting, challenging and different from that of Sweden, Bjőrn Sőderberg came to Nepal as a volunteer when he was 19 years old and lived in Bal Mandir. During his stay, he saw the potential for exciting new things in the hands of the young people in the country. In contrary to the trend of the youngsters finding their way to the U.S and abroad, Bjőrn started off in Nepal with a paper recycling (Watabaran Pvt. Ltd.) and IT outsourcing venture (Websearch Professionals Pvt. Ltd).

Despite the Swedish Government urging its citizens not to travel to Nepal for security reasons, Mr. Sőderberg was determined and he started approaching for loans in banks for the initial capital of $20,000. But through his struggle in the initial days, what he learnt was exciting!

——> Lesson No: 1,  One does not need money to be an entrepreneur, s/he needs customers. You don’t spend money to start a company; you start a company to earn money. And with this learning in mind, he went to Sweden and confirmed two clients by promising them to deliver the same service they were already getting, but in half the price. His first two customers was his market research. In his way of doing things, he believes more in learning by doing rather than trying to focus too much in theory as he says “Most people believe you need to follow a certain process and make business plans to start a company. But the matter of fact is you don’t need websites, business plans or brochures to start your company, just start making money. Once you have your first customer, you have your market research, you have your company.”

Speaking of the struggle people go through to find that one bright idea to start up a venture, he points out that having a good or a great idea is not a guarantee of the success of the business.
—–> Lesson No. 2, Having the drive and the guts is more important than the idea itself.

The passion associated with the work can naturally make any idea a good one. The old formula is if you enjoy your work, you don’t even feel you are working. Adding more on innovation, idea and entrepreneurship, he explains that Entrepreneurship is about getting an idea and working very hard to realize it because it takes time to build up a business. And thus during that time, an entrepreneurs must have two qualities; patience and work hard.

While most people are apprehensive about starting up a business for the fear of failure, he takes a different approach saying,

—–> Lesson No. 3, “Never be afraid to fail. Rather be afraid of never failing. Those who never fail have never tried anything new and never be afraid of creating new things. Because creating new things and translating new ideas to action, even if they are small ones is what entrepreneurs do.”

Some Questions & Answers

What are the problems in starting up a business in Nepal?

Corruption is one of the major discouragements in starting up a business in Nepal. Bureaucrats try to squeeze money out of you here which a different scenario than in Sweden.

Do you think foreign investors are safe enough to invest in Nepal?

Given a few things, a safe environment for foreign investment can be created in Nepal. Some are:
Documents should be in English.
Load shedding should cease.
Hindrances from involuntary Bandhs and strikes should stop.

Have you faced or felt any conflict between the social contribution and economic aspects of a business?

I haven’t faced many clashes as such. I provide scholarships to talented students to study in KU and ask them to work for me for 4 years. Besides, I am always trying to take the middle way in finding profitability and contributing to the society.

In a certain business situation like “If a client asks more and more services and in the end refuses to pay the prices pointing out it was very high, what can one do in such situation”?

To avoid unprofessional situations like these, making everything about the deal clear beforehand is important. Give your client a sample or a prototype of your service and product and ask them to test it. If they like it then mention your prices. But remember some clients are unworkable and sometimes in those cases you have to let them go.

Previous speakers at “E4N’s Last Thursdays” have been:

Ambica Shrestha of Dwarika’s Hotels and Resorts

Ajay Ghimire of Vibor Bank

Ashutosh Tiwari of Himalmedia

Bal Joshi of Thamel.com

Gyanendra Pradhan of HydroSolutions Nepal

Ichhya Raj Tamang of Civil Homes Group of Industries

Jonas Lindblom, a Swedish investor of Isadora Cosmetics on Durbar Marg

Karna Sakya of Kathmandu Guest house

Kiran Bhakta Joshi of Incessant Rain Animation Studios

Mahendra Shakya of Momo King

Min Bahadur Gurung of Bhatbhateni Supermarkets

Tashi Sherpa of Sherpa Adventure Gears

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