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28 August saw the Government of Nepal set out its plans to support the growth of green enterprises, building on research developed alongside ICIMOD. Once a development nice-to-have, this work is now about backing the businesses of the future, argues Izabella Koziell, Deputy Director General at the Hindu Kush Himalaya knowledge centre.
This Monday, I joined the launch of Start Up Nation, a new strategy led by Nepal’s Ministry of Industry Commerce and Supplies, designed to turbo charge enterprise in Nepal.
From Silicon Valley to Shanghai we have seen the amazing things that are possible when the right policy frameworks and finance exist to allow start-ups to thrive. This initiative sets out to create a similarly fertile soil for start-ups right here in Nepal, in order to create thousands of jobs.
After two years in Nepal in my role as Deputy Director General of ICIMOD and from my marriage to a serial entrepreneur, I know for a fact that Nepalis have in spades two of the most crucial characteristics needed for a start-up to succeed: firstly, tenacity and secondly, inventiveness. Indeed, micro, small and medium businesses are already the bedrock of Nepal’s economy.
But what’s exciting about this framework is that it sets out to put climate and environment at the centre of this already strong entrepreneurial culture. This is important ethically, and for Nepal to meet its nationally determined contributions of course. But it is also, economically speaking, common sense. Pro-nature and pro-climate businesses are the growth sectors of tomorrow.
The good news is that while San Francisco and Singapore might be more synonymous with start-up culture, few places on Earth can boast as much experience and potential, and unique products, as Nepal has when it comes to green, and resilient, businesses. This is an arena in which Nepal already leads the world.
This strategy is also trailblazing for having inclusivity at its heart. Again, this is not just the right thing to do, from a development lens. It’s also the smart thing to do: all the research shows that greater diversity leads to increased innovation, better problem-solving, and customer understanding – all fundamental building blocks of business success.
Nepal, in common with many countries, faces challenging times ahead. For Nepal, economic challenges are uniquely compounded by climate and environment change. Boosting and backing green, resilient, inclusive start-ups is a big step forwards in terms of ensuring Nepal’s economy is able to face down these challenges and be fit for the future.
ICIMOD applauds this strategy and stands ready to support the Government of Nepal’s efforts moving forwards. And I look forward to meeting the future stars of Nepal’s start-up landscape in all their diversity of backgrounds and experience as they forge their future-fit businesses.