Kathmandu: Swisscontact convened a panel discussion on “SMEs and Sustainable Economic Growth” on May 25, 2023 in Kathmandu. The objective of the panel discussion was to share insights into the state of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nepal and their contribution to the economy and foster dialogue and synergies in achieving sustainable economic development by catalyzing SME growth in Nepal.
The panel featured Surakchya Adhikari, COO of Thulo Inc Pvt Ltd; Manoj Paudel, Founder of Adhyanta; Rewati Gurung, Founder of Kokroma, Princi Koirala, Technology Entrepreneur, and Dr Philippe Schneuwly, CEO of Swisscontact.
Despite the growing number of SMEs, their capabilities and business conditions haven’t improved in line. Constraints like inadequate infrastructure, capital access, and skilled resources hinder growth. Many SMEs can’t scale and may close, particularly during shocks like Covid-19 or economic downturns.
Sharing her experiences, on the power of technology and the requirement of skilled human resources to enable SME growth, Adhikari stated, “A comprehensive approach to digitization is crucial to enhance the efficiency of business processes, thereby fostering the long-term viability of SMEs.” She further emphasized, “The need to consider the informal economy, as it significantly contributes to Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product, in pursuit of the objective to uplift the SME sector.”
To this, Koirala added, “There is also the need to invest in research and development with documentation of homegrown business case studies – a must to bridge the gap between education and experience.”
SMEs are a vital component of Nepal’s economy. There are opportunities for the SME sector to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Highlighting more on the role of SMEs in inclusive development and the utility of knowledge exchange for growing SMEs, Gurung shared that “Adaptability and collaboration with other stakeholders are key when running a business. The pursuit of any lifestyle by a woman, fueled by her hard-earned money, becomes a powerful act of empowerment, regardless of its nature.”
Access to capital is one of the key enablers for SME growth. Paudel opined, “The significance of fostering an enabling ecosystem for angel investors, venture capitalists, and impact investors to support SMEs’ development cannot be overstated. While the growing interest from domestic and international investors is promising, further efforts are needed to streamline investment procedures and offer guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs.”
The panelists spoke in unison when they shared their success stories and acknowledged the support from the development partners being instrumental in creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Dr. Philippe Schneuwly giving an overview of how development sectors work and particularly how Swisscontact contributes stated, “We work with the private sector to resolve development challenges in a sustainable manner. We promote start-ups and facilitate processes to support and strengthen the capacity of ecosystem actors to enable them to provide better services.”