COVID-19 Impact on Entrepreneurial opportunities

Parshuram Kunwar Chhetri | CEO, Global IME Bank Ltd.

The ninth session on ‘Entrepreneurship Talk Series’ was conducted on April 30, at 5 PM in the evening. The speaker for the session was Mr. Parshuram Kunwar Chhetri, the CEO of Global IME Bank Ltd. The topic of the discussion was “COVID-19 Impact on Entrepreneurial Opportunities”. There were 100 participants in the online zoom session and 300 participants over Facebook Live that was done through the pages of Boston International College, Skill Lab, and Global IME Bank Limited.

Mr. Chhetri started the session by expressing his happiness in regard to the very low number of corona cases and no fatalities till the date in Nepal. He also mentioned that according to a forecast from the IMF, only 11 countries of the world will not have negative economic growth and fortunately Nepal is among those countries, which is another good news for Nepal. 

Pointing out various policy failures of Nepal, he mentioned that microfinancing and remittance were playing an important role in curbing poverty. However, with the impact of COVID19 in foreign employment, it will significantly reduce remittance. Therefore, as a lesson learnt from this crisis, Nepal should be self-sufficient in agriculture, public health services, and pharmaceuticals industry and it should march ahead in ‘digital economy’. His analysis was that the Corona crisis has affected Nepalese economy badly but it has also created a new range of opportunities for entrepreneurs. 

Nepal needs to be self dependent on agriculture mainly because Nepal has arable land and favourable climate, plenty of human resources and potential for exports of high value agricultural products. However, the reality of an agricultural country, Nepal, is that it ranks in the bottom in agricultural development among the South Asian nations. The reason for this, according to Mr. Chhetri, is that agriculture is seen as an inferior profession. In order to restore the confidence of farmers, he believes that the agriculture field should be glamorized. 

Answering the question of participants on how to make the agricultural sector glamorous, he said that modern tools and equipment should be used, farming should be mechanized and made compatible with modern lifestyle, so that farmers can work in their farms in ties, suits and pants. Likewise, the government also should bring policies to protect farmers interests. Citing an example of India, where the government has set the minimum price of important crops and guarantees the purchase of products at that price, he said that Nepal should learn from it. Nepal should be self-sufficient at least on the staples such as cereals, pulses, and vegetables.

Mr. Chhetri urged everyone to be optimistic for the opportunities in disguise brought about by this COVID-19 crisis. He said that Nepal is gradually moving towards digital economy, online education, and e-commerce opening the doors of possibilities. Talking about entrepreneurship opportunities, he said, “Nepal should now focus on agriculture and agro-industries such as packaging, preserving, processing, etc. In the same way, we have to engage in “low volume high value” business ventures. With China in the north and India in the south, it is difficult for us to compete in quantity, so we have no choice but to focus on quality. For example, in agriculture we have to do organic farming, while in production we have to emphasize ‘hand-made’ goods.

Nepal’s economic growth is projected to slow down to 0.2%. However, the fall in oil prices, reduction in bank interest rates and strengthening of the Indian rupee against the dollar means that there is no possibility of further increase in the rate of  inflation. Likewise, in the changing economic context, Asia and Africa would be the center of the world economy in the near future. Therefore, Nepal’s economy will strengthen along with the economic growth of neighboring countries India and China. Nepalese should, therefore, make Nepal their workplace to take advantage of this changing economic equation.

All in all, the event was fruitful with some takeaways for students and entrepreneurs alike.

  • By Prem Gaire & Sumina Pradhan

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