Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Swiss Contact Dr. Philippe Schneuwly said that Swisscontact promote start-up and facilitate process to support and strengthen the capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
In a panel discussion program on "SMEs and Sustainable Economic Growth organized by Swisscontact, a Swiss INGO, he gave an overview of how development sectors work and particularly how Swisscontact contributes.
He has 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.”
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 included 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. The panel was moderated by Chewan Rai, Chair Che&Co Pvt. Ltd.
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.
After the discussion, moderator Chewan Rai opened the floor for the audience to engage with the panel members. Rai summated the discussion by emphasizing the need to host such events because it presents pragmatic optimism for entrepreneurs and gives inspiration and power to SMEs to navigate their growth. T
The challenges presented by the panel members, among other things, necessitate policy reforms and strengthening of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the creation of a more conducive business environment for anyone who wants to start a business in Nepal.
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.
Swisscontact is a leading partner organization for the implementation of international development projects. The organization promotes inclusive economic, social, and ecological development to make an effective contribution toward sustainable and widespread prosperity in developing and emerging economies. The independent, non‐profit, and private foundation was established in 1959 in Switzerland.
Swisscontact registered as an International Non-Governmental Organization in Nepal, has been operating in Nepal since 1991. Currently, Swisscontact Nepal has six development programs across all seven provinces, with a well-functioning country office that employs over 120 staff members.