The Power of Collaboration in Addressing Entrepreneurs’ Needs

4 years of activity. 29 companies accelerated. 21 investment pledges. More than €3M Euros raised in investment. These are the statistics Rockstart Impact Nepal is being proud of achieving since 2014, when it entered for the first time the Nepali market with the help of One to Watch. The program has been fostering one mission: bridging the gap between Nepali entrepreneurs and (inter-)national impact investors, and keeps doing so for the 4th batch of companies – for which it just opened its applications (Aug 1- Oct 5).

Looking back to 2014, Nepal’s startup ecosystem was formed by entrepreneurs self-manufacturing their products on a smaller scale without any support infrastructure. In a system filled with regulatory hurdles, there was a need for organizations that would put the entrepreneurs first. Rockstart Impact was the first accelerator in the market to encourage entrepreneurship and connect ambitious founders with potential investors. Since then, the entrepreneurial environment has been thriving, its further stimulated by the appearance of multiple initiatives that are supporting the ecosystem on different levels, from ideation phase to private equity investments.

Currently, in the market, there are many players that cater to different needs of the entrepreneurs, however, the organizations act as stand-alone with limited collaborations between them. One to Watch and Rockstart Impact Nepal understood the importance of linking the accelerator and investment instruments under one funnel back in 2014. Nevertheless, each year the program attracts a total of 200 applications from which it selects the top 10 companies and has to reject the rest since they are just one step too early for acceleration. This brought the realization that entrepreneurs are in the need of a program that comes one step earlier in the pipeline of acceleration and investment, and focuses on incubation.

This year, Rockstart Impact Nepal joined forces with Nepal Communitere’s I-CUBE incubation program to support entrepreneurship development in Nepal. This UKaid-funded collaboration will focus on business incubation and acceleration, it will also actively nurture and support high potential companies for growth, via incubation, acceleration and investment. Rabi Rayamajhi from DFID Nepal believes that “this collaboration will help early stage businesses access growth capital to create new jobs”.

Rockstart Impact Nepal and I-CUBE incubation program will provide entrepreneurs with critical coaching and mentoring needed for business development, along with other tools that are required to grow their business to the next level. The overall goal of this program is to support high potential entrepreneurs and link them to domestic and international growth capital. The strategic advisor of Nepal Communitere, Bahar Kumar, states “we are excited to finally be able to fill a gap within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nepal by providing meaningful business incubation services to inspiring entrepreneurs and set them up for true success!”.

We have to keeping in mind that no matter how many organizations there are in the market supporting entrepreneurs and competing between each other, there is one and only stakeholder that these programs should focus on: the entrepreneur. No matter if it is a bootcamp, incubation program, angel investor network or investment fund, they all exist because of the entrepreneurs. The Program Director of Rockstart Impact, Victoria Ous, shares, “This partnership is a good example of a beautiful initiative between different organizations to help out entrepreneurs at various stages of development in Nepal. It’s time for accelerators, incubators, and NGOs to put aside their egos and unite in order to be able to better cater to the needs of the entrepreneurs. Together we can achieve a greater impact.”

The applications for the programs are open from 1st of August 2017 to 5th of October 2017 (midnight). Out of all the applicants, 22 companies will be selected in total for the entrepreneurship development programs. These companies will be divided in two groups: ten of the companies will go to the 100 days acceleration program Rockstart Impact, whereas the other twelve companies will be incubated for a year at Nepal Communitere’s I-CUBE incubation program, before joining the pipeline of companies for further business development and/or investment. The application for both programs is available online.

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