Being an entrepreneur is equally difficult as exciting it sounds. In recent few years, entrepreneurship is one of the hot topics in Nepal. Gone are those days, when students after graduating search for a 9 to 5 job and settle down. Today’s generation wants much more than that; they have the guts, excitement, enthusiasm and everything that takes to change the world. Even when we look around, we can see many youngsters, ready with their plan for their business. There is an extensive list of youths, who have achieved their dreams of starting their company. But, as mentioned earlier, starting a company is a piece of a cakewalk. Maybe that’s why the list of people who have failed is even longer. There are lots of people who have ideas but are confused about executing them. Like any newcomer, they lack experience and need proper counseling and guidance.
Biruwa Ventures is one of those firms which was established with the aim to help the entrepreneurs, in setting up and growing their company in every way possible. The company came into existence in 2011, when Vidhan Rana realized the problems in starting a new business. He met many entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business but could not do so because they were facing problems like not knowing how to register a company, could not figure out a plan of activities or lacked investment to start. Being an entrepreneur himself, he thought that a company that helps entrepreneurs overcome some of these problems could be a good place to start.
“Any problem has a solution and within most solutions there is a business opportunity.”
Challenges in Entrepreneurship
While talking to him, he mentioned, “Entrepreneurs in Nepal have a lot of opportunities as Nepal is not a developed country, and a lot of business potential is not explored in the country. Even a company like ours that started out by providing shared office space was called innovative even though the idea is well established in developed countries. Our nation is constantly going through a lot of changes – changes create opportunities in the market. Rather than looking at business models that are already successful, entrepreneurs should rather look at problems that people are facing in the market. Any problem has a solution and within most solutions there is a business opportunity.”
He further adds, “I believe the market is getting somewhat crowded in Kathmandu for businesses, but opportunities are pretty unexplored outside the Valley. Therefore, starting a business outside of Kathmandu might be a wise decision. A lot of support is now available for entrepreneurs starting a business in Nepal, which was nonexistent just five years ago. Entrepreneurs who will be able to capitalize on the available support are more likely to succeed. ”
“Young people in the country are always thinking of moving abroad due to the instability and lack of opportunities in the country, thus finding and retaining good talent for our businesses is a one of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Nepal.”
He accepts the fact that Doing business anywhere in the world is full of risks, and the political instability and frequently changing regulation of our county makes the job of entrepreneurs even more challenging. While talking about problems faced by entrepreneurs he adds, “The government does not bring policies that make doing business easy, rather they look at entrepreneurs with suspicion and create problems. Power cuts and lack of fuel make it difficult for any company to operate in the country. There are solutions to this problem, but that makes the cost of operations higher. Young people in the country are always thinking of moving abroad due to the instability and lack of opportunities in the country, thus finding and retaining good talent for our businesses is a one of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Nepal. ”
Currently, Vidhan is working with three more partners in his company, Abhinab Basnyat, who is currently pursuing his MBA in the USA, Sanam Chitrakar, who also was one of the first clients of Biruwa, and later joined in as a partner in 2014 and Anup Tamang.
The Primary Focus
Biruwa helps entrepreneurs in three primary areas, providing business advice, office spaces, and mentoring them. The company offers free mentoring sessions for aspiring entrepreneurs and early- stage startups to help them refine their business plan and figure out steps to execute the business plans. Furthermore, it also helps the companies to enhance their investment proposals and connects with avenues of financing them.
One of the main issues for the newly started business can be to find an office space. Thus, Biruwa offers serviced office space for the entrepreneurs. Most importantly, since the partners of Biruwa have sound entrepreneurial and managerial experience, they can be well-experienced mentors for any newcomer.
Biruwa has worked with many startups and companies in Nepal, which includes well-known names like Shreenagar Agro Farm, Sasto Deal, Thames International College, Pennam Partners, etc.
When asked about the response they get from their company; Vidhan said, “People are very appreciative of our work. We strive on delivering quality services to our clients and have focused on contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. As work we do creates an impact on the society, we sometimes do work without the expectation of high financial returns. People see the value we provide and commend the work that we do.”
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Like any other organization, Biruwa Ventures has its challenges too; Vidhan mentioned that when they first started the company, they were able to spot the opportunity and were able to bring a service that was not available in the market, and that worked very well for the company. However now the competition has increased and has reduced their profits. He further says “Entrepreneurship has become a hot topic, and donor agencies are now bringing programs that are offering services that we provide for free to entrepreneurs – making our business difficult to sustain. Luckily, we knew this was happening and have striven to stay ahead of the changes going on in the market.
As stated earlier, finding and retaining good talent is also a big challenge for us. As a small business, we cannot afford to pay a hefty salary, so we focus on providing other non-financial benefits like flexible office hours, a relaxed and fun work environment, opportunities for career growth and learning, etc. But such benefits do not outweigh the financial benefits of other jobs in the market or opportunities available abroad.”
With changes in the market, Biruwa also has made some changes in their business strategies; they now are focusing on providing services to startups who are looking to grow their business. Access to growth capital is one of the biggest hurdles for growth for startups in Nepal, and they are planning to make Biruwa a go-to place to seek advice regarding how best to make people business investment ready and a place to link with investors.
“Entrepreneurs by nature like to dream big. But, aspiring entrepreneurs have to stay grounded and start small.”
At last, we asked Vidhan to share a piece of advice to all aspiring entrepreneurs; he says “Entrepreneurs by nature like to dream big. But, aspiring entrepreneurs have to stay grounded that start small. Starting small makes your business more flexible, and your business can respond to market shocks and make changes more easily. Most aspiring entrepreneurs do not know how difficult and time-consuming building a new business is. Success takes a long time to come so entrepreneurs have to be patient. They need to learn from failures and adapt. They need to have never given up attitude to be successful.”