The World Bank Group, with support from the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, today launched the Nepal Agribusiness Innovation Center, a new business hub designed to increase the competitiveness and growth of local agro-processing companies. Over the next 18 months, the center will support over 150 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing a customized suite of services, including coaching, training, market linkages, and investment facilitation.
“Domestic demand for ready-to-consume food products is increasing in most low-income countries due to urbanization and a growing middle class,” said Takuya Kamata, World Bank’s country manager for Nepal. “Nepalese producers and agro-entrepreneurs are well-positioned to reach local and regional markets, but they need resources to expand. By supporting their growth and promoting investments in Nepal’s agribusiness sector, the Agribusiness Innovation Center will contribute to increasing agricultural incomes, creating jobs, and fostering competitiveness.”
Small and medium-sized enterprises play a significant role in the country’s economic growth. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), they employ 1.75 million people and account for 22% of the country’s GDP. Companies operating in the agribusiness sector are particularly important as they can generate a multiplier effect along the supply chain — their growth boosts the demand for agricultural products, packaging, transportation, and farm equipment.
This week, the Bank Group, through its Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, in partnership with the IFC and Nepal Entrepreneurs’ Hub, organized a boot camp to identify the first group of companies that will work with the center. Of the 650 applications received, 25 companies were selected to receive intense training and business coaching. After a final pitch competition, the 20 top-performing businesses were invited to join the newly established center.
The Nepal Agribusiness Innovation Center is a World Bank Group/infoDev initiative supported by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden.