Dina Farag

Rockstart Impact Demo Day 2017

Nine Nepalese entrepreneurs traveled to Amsterdam mid-March to present their progress to investors and partners in the third annual Rockstart Impact Demo Day.  

Catherine Smith, former communications and PR lead at Rockstart, described Demo Day as “the final milestone at the end of a 100-day program that is designed to support Nepali entrepreneurs in growing their companies and raising investment.  Rockstart Impact provides fruitful mentoring, expert-based coaching, presentation training, investor meetings and access to Rockstart’s unique network of mentors and experts in the Netherlands and Nepal as well as growth capital.  Rockstart works in collaboration with One to Watch, an asset management company in Nepal.”

Before the pitches commenced, the program director Simon Mathijssen remarked: “There are only a few people that view Nepal as the land of opportunity. They form a rare breed as most of the Nepalese only see an opportunity abroad. However, the environment of Nepal itself creates various opportunities which exist only for those capable and brave enough to grasp it. One of our alumni said every problem knows a solution and this solution can be a business model. But to know that there’s a solution and an opportunity for a business is something different than to act upon it and really make a business out of it.”

The entrepreneurs were likewise nervous and overjoyed to be in our ballroom pitching their brainchild in front of investors and partners, creating a unique atmosphere for everybody who had the privilege to join. The companies the entrepreneurs created have been fine tuned to function within Nepal’s ecosystem, creating value for themselves and the people around them.

The Startups (as listed in the Impact Demo Day Booklet):

Best Paani– Best Paani is a social enterprise that works towards a world in which every person has access to clean drinking water. Kathmandu valley lacks basic water infrastructure. Most residents along with several institutions like schools and hospitals rely on expensive water trucks or unfiltered well water, which are both not hygienic. Best Paani addresses the core of this water source problem and provides the only long term solution in the market: rainwater harvesting systems. They develop and install cost-effective and innovative systems to harvest, filtrate, and store rain water. Together, they are determined to make a social impact by fighting against waterborne diseases and impairments.

Chainlink Engineering – Nepal’s abundant water resources and its steep landscape offer huge possibilities for hydropower. In recent years, an increasing number of public and private hydro plants are being constructed in Nepal. However, there are a few Nepali companies equipped and capable to maintain all these installations. Repair and maintenance is therefore often put off and an increasing number of hydro power installations are running on a lower capacity or sitting idle due to the lack of proper maintenance or repair. Chainlink Engineering is a company that specializes in hydro power maintenance and repair. They aim to tackle this problem and take advantage of this huge market opportunity. With their experienced and capable team, Chainlink engineering aspires to be the biggest hydro power repair and maintenance company of Nepal generating employment and green energy.

Green Bamboo Creations – Green Bamboo Creations was born out of a great passion for working with bamboo and an aspiration to seriously impact the agricultural sector in Nepal. The company manufactures beautifully designed furniture made from bamboo. They employ mostly female workers, creating a strong social impact. With the scarcity of wood, traditional wooden furniture is replaced by imported steel and plastic furniture at an alarming rate. Bamboo furniture is more durable, eco-friendly and comparatively cost-effective. It is also abundantly available in Nepal, and has great potential for becoming a cash-crop. It comes to no surprise that they see a great future for bamboo furniture in Nepal.

Hesty Kiwi – Over 90 percent of the fruits sold in Nepal are currently imported from abroad. In spite of having one of the best climates for power fruit-Kiwi, the import percent is the same as the rest. Giving up on his stable job at a government office, Taramani founded Hesty Kiwi. Along with a farm of their own, Hesty Kiwi collects kiwi from small scale farmers in East Nepal. Moreover they provide training to small farmers, supply them with kiwi saplings and even provide them with a buyback guarantee of the kiwi they produce. Hesty kiwi aims to build the first sorting, grading and packaging facility in the east of Nepal allowing for replacement of imported kiwi and export to India and China.

ICT for Agriculture –  Almost 70 percent of the people in Nepal are involved in agriculture out of which, most of them are farming in a very traditional and ineffective way. Middlemen are in charge of selling the produce, often leading to farmers not getting a fair price. ICT for Agriculture aims to empower farmers by providing them with relevant daily information on how to farm effectively, fair market prices for their products and other important information like localized 3-day weather forecasts. To effectively bridge the information gap, they developed a platform, allowing for easy knowledge and information sharing. On top of that, their platform is unique in its quality and service and is designed in such a way that it is accessible to both farmers with smartphones and simple phones. Now, they are on a mission to become Nepal’s leading agricultural platform and reach all rural districts of Nepal.

Mush Nepal – Brought up in Balambu; at the heart of mushroom farming in Nepal, there are not many farmers in Nepal who know more about mushroom farming than Suman, the founder of Mush Nepal. After starting one of the biggest mushroom farms in Kathmandu Valley, he is now ready for the next challenge: becoming the biggest mushroom seed producer of Nepal. Mushroom farming has huge potential in Nepal due to the comparatively low investment needed to start farming mushrooms. However, there is a scarcity of mushroom seeds in Nepal and the market quality is often poor. Mush Nepal aims to change this by producing high quality mushroom seeds in large quantities in its state of the art facility. Moreover, Mush Nepal gives 3-days trainings about mushroom cultivation, allowing farmers to start farming and creating new customers every day.

Natural Resins – Natural Resins manufactures gum rosin and turpentine oil which is extracted from pine trees, found in abundance in the forests of Nepal. Rum Rosin is used in over 100 industries worldwide such as rubber and glue and is the natural substitute for oil based chemicals. Natural Resins sources its Gum Raisin from pine trees of community forests in the remote far west of Nepal. The collection is a labour-intensive process, taking place 8 months per year and the extraction process does not harm the trees but supports Nepalese economy through export. The company has a great social impact as 90 percent of its expenses flow directly to the BOP for collection and transportation of the gum raisin. By 2020 Natural Resins aims to employ 700 workers.

Nepal Thopa Sinchai – Nepal Thopa Sinchai provides effective drip irrigation systems and green houses solutions. After they saw the success of these technologies on their own farm, they envisioned to share the lessons learned with farmers in Nepal. At the moment, NTS is the market leader of drip irrigation systems in Nepal and the solutions they provide has the potential of changing agricultural practices in Nepal. The services that NTS provides are cost-effective and can easily increase a farmer’s productivity. With their expertise and passion for farming, they allow farmers to effectively make a living from their land.

Rammed Earth Solutions – Kathmandu valley is slowly turning into a concrete jungle. Even after the devastating earthquake of 2015, people are rebuilding their houses with the traditional technique which is not earthquake resistant way and often with traditional produced bricks with devastating side effects for the environment. Rammed Earth Solutions is a construction company specialized in building with rammed earth. This is made through locally available materials that are rock-solid and an environmentally friendly alternative for traditional bricks and concrete. Building with rammed earth allows for better insulation, keeping your house warm in winter and cool in summer. Moreover, rammed earth buildings are earthquake resistant and tackles the shortage of building resources in Nepal. Rammed Earth Solutions aims to make building with rammed earth mainstream in Nepal.

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