Nurturing the Seeds of Change
We all know someone who loves gardening, but many will tell you that it’s just a hobby. UG Enterprise (I am the Gardner) aims to change all that. They want to turn gardening into a lifestyle, not just a hobby.
Started by five friends from different walks of lives, UG Enterprise (I am the Gardener) brings a new concept to Nepal’s floriculture industry- a garden centre. Although there are numerous nurseries in Nepal, all of them, according to Aditya Shrestha – one of the co-founders, sell similar plants and all have limited services and gardening accessories. “The garden centre is not going to be any competition for any of the 600 nurseries in Nepal” shares Biraj Kadka, another co-founder and the person behind the concept. Instead “we are here to compliment them. We will create a value chain with the garden centre, giving the nurseries a place to sell their products, for customers to have a place to come for advice regarding any plants and to buy anything that they need for their gardens.”
Opening a garden centre was not just a happy accident. These five friends, Aditya Shrestha, Biraj Khadka, Brijesh Upreti, Kewal Risal and Roshan Shrestha, always wanted to do something different, not just a normal 9 to 5 job. They attempted different businesses before finally deciding on establishing a garden centre. Biraj is not a novice in the floriculture industry. His mother established the Khadga Nursery and nurtured it from a cottage industry in her home garden to a a 26 Ropani nursery in Mandikatar, the largest in Nepal. And Biraj was involved in helping the nursery grow. UG Enterprise (I am the Gardener) was launched during the 19th Flora Expo in 2016, with the hopes of creating an online platform to sell plants. However, people wanted their landscaping services more, and they decided to go ahead with it. Though they pitched for a couple of projects “people loved our concept but did not love the price that came with it. Our ideas were too huge for the market, and the market did not accept what we pitched. After that we decided to open a garden centre at Dhumbarahi,” shares Biraj Kadka. The garden centre also came with its own set of problems. “We knew what we wanted, but did not know how to start” admits Aditya Shrestha. Since garden centres are a rather new idea for Nepal, there was no one they could go to for help. Instead they created their garden centre through DIY’s and a lot of Pinterest pins. They were the brains, and hands behind tables, water and fertilizer system that you can find in the garden centre.
They opened UG Enterprise (I am the Gardener) with the hopes of adding value to the floriculture industry, and they are certainly going about doing just that. Right now they have a chain of stores in the different Bhat- Bhateni Department stores in Kathmandu, and are planning to expand all over Nepal. Apart from just selling plants, they make sure that their customers have information about the proper way to take care of the plants that they have bought. They are also willing to answer any questions posted on their Facebook account, regardless whether the question was posted by a customer or not. Later, down the line, they plan on creating a “pool of educated gardeners” and maybe even open an institute for gardeners, reveals Aditya. But most importantly, they plan on changing how we view gardening and the floriculture industry. They not only want to make gardening a lifestyle choice, but also remove the age old mind set, in Nepal, that only the uneducated people can be gardeners and be involved in this field. Furthermore, they want to bring about a change to this traditionally driven industry, so that there is support not just for the customers but for the growers and the nursery owners. To take a step forward in this direction they are participating in Rockstart Impact’s business acceleration program. Through this program they hope to receive the technical and marketing mentoring that will help them stand in par with international garden centers.
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