Actors and their Capacities

Actually, I deliberately left out mentioning one kind of resources, which we had investigated under the investment climate dimension as well: human ones, or labor more specifically.

I did so as on one side, I do not think human beings should be labelled as being just a resource. They are much more valuable! On the other side, as some of the entrepreneurs didn’t understand lack of skilled labor as a problem. They saw it as one of their duties to skill up their people. Also, given the high number of youth in the country, one could argue there is enough ‘supply’.

Obviously, the educational system has its challenges. Firstly, there are good colleges and scholarship opportunities abroad for people from third world countries, like Nepal, but they are far from being fair game. Secondly, although the quality of teaching and training in Nepal has improved, they not always meet industrial demands. Like elsewhere, business owners complain that educational institutes, ranging from vocational training to grad schools, fail to deliver a practical and immediately deployable skill-set. Thirdly, keeping in mind what we were trying to investigate, MBA schools, for instance, nowhere were established to nurture entrepreneurs; albeit a few exceptions and success stories. Finally, most grad students tend to reach for low hanging fruits. While MBAs in US or Europe seek out consultancies, in Nepal, NGOs, international and governmental organizations or the banking sector seem to be one’s best bet.

Besides academic institutions, who seem not to deliver that skilled manpower or those aspiring entrepreneurs needed to boost Nepal’s economy, we interviewed other actors as well: ranging from chambers, banks, micro finance institutes, over the media, government offices, and cooperatives. They all had one thing in common: most entrepreneurs neither trusted nor wanted to have anything to do with them (if they could afford in not doing so). Interestingly, though, almost all of them were hosting some kind of entrepreneurship program.

Support from the government should be according to law and not based on relationships and networks!

Bank manager in Western Nepal

Even though the quote reads about governments, the same seemed to be true with all other actors. Most chambers appeared like small meshed networks of friends and business men. The ones receiving startup loans were the ones either successful already (i.e. having enough collateral), were blessed with good writing skills, or having enough money to hire a ghostwriter. Micro finance institutes gave loans to MSMEs, but with interest rates reaching 15% and more as well as no skill development linked to it (e.g., financial literacy), one has to wonder how fruitful those initiatives will be. The media, on a slightly different note, were more likely to feature businessmen who were already successful or more “exciting stories” (‘The good news about bad news – it sells’).

Private sector is demanding, government is assuring‘

Professor at Mid Western University

Yet another statement, which says much about governmental actors! Similarly, while the sheer number of cooperatives is striking, one would have to compare their quantitative increase to the minimal impact on productivity over time.

In sum, one could say there just aren’t many supporting actors for the wants and needs of entrepreneurs. In fact, programs that carry the term in their name are plentiful, but which ends they meet remains a mystery.

So, let’s continue and look at the last dimension – culture and attitude
>>here, before drawing some conclusions about entrepreneurship in Nepal.