Entrepreneurs hopeful that peace will bring greater prosperity

Entrepreneurs hopeful that peace will bring greater prosperity
Entrepreneurs hopeful that peace will bring greater prosperity

UNDP-supported entrepreneurs hopeful that peace will bring greater prosperity

'It's too early to see the change,' says Rachana Pandit, chairperson of Business Development Services. 'But there is tremendous hope among the entrepreneurs.' This optimism among Nepal's grassroots business community is confirmed by entrepreneurs like 23-year old Surya Lama, who recently launched a small mushroom farm in the basement of his home in Kakani with a little help'skills training and credit'from UNDP. 'Up until now I've only been selling these mushrooms in the local area, but if peace comes then transport will be more reliable and I might be able to expand to other areas also, perhaps even Kathmandu,' says the determined young man.

Nearby, a strawberry growing cooperative recently began making jam with those berries that used to be thrown away because they were considered too small for sale. This is a marketing idea UNDP helped the cooperative to develop. Cooperative member, Kancha Man Tamang, explains: 'In the past, because of the conflict, it was often difficult to take our product to the market, but now our only competitors are the big companies in the market,' he said.

Now that Nepal's conflict is fading, entrepreneurs under the Micro-enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) are facing the bigger challenge of making their products competitive in the market place. The lack of infrastructure in the country means production costs are high for entrepreneurs'making it difficult for them to offer prices that are competitive with cheaper Indian and Chinese products available in the local markets. Many say they also need help to broaden their market-base to improve the quality of their products.

Reaching the unreachable: Highlights from the MEDEP review:

In April 2006, UNDP's Micro-enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) underwent a mid-term review. The review mission found that MEDEP had been successful in reaching traditionally excluded groups. Here are the review highlights:

-By 2005, almost 60 percent of the 14,000 people who had launched their enterprises with UNDP support were members of traditionally excluded groups.
-The average MEDEP participant had improved their family's income by 56 percent.
-Since 1998, only three percent of participants had ceased their enterprises.
-The conflict, which caused disruption to transport and movement, had made it difficult for enterprises to grow.
-Entrepreneurs needed greater help in accessing markets and improving the quality of their products.