Sahaj Supported Acceleration Program Nets NPR 200 million Initial Funding for Five Agribusinesses

Sustainable agriculture
Rojina Karmacharya and Shradha Giri29.09.2023
The growth of these businesses within Koshi Province holds the potential to trigger a positive economic cascade. It can directly and indirectly generate more jobs, thereby enhancing local livelihoods. 

Sahaj in collaboration with Aadhyanta Fund Management, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Koshi Province, and Koshi Provincial Investment Authority organised an investors’ meet in Biratnagar on September 21, 2023. After an intensive 8-month-long business acceleration program, eight dynamic agri-businesses had the opportunity to present their ventures to potential investors. Astoundingly, five of these ventures, namely Birat Group, Khetipati Organics, Agri-Center Jhapa, Raktakali Tea Estate, Dibyadristi Veneration and Agro secured initial investment commitments exceeding NPR 200 million. This substantial funding came from Global Equity Fund, Reliable Ventures, and Aadhyanta Fund Management.

"Political instability hinders economic progress and therefore there is a need to formulate appropriate policies and implement strategies to foster the growth of the agricultural sector. The state government is prepared to collaborate with all stakeholders to boost investments in various agricultural sub-sectors within Koshi Province and the provincial investment authority is actively conducting essential studies."
Mr. Hikmat Karki, the Honorable Chief Minister of Koshi Province

This initiative garnered considerable attention, with the attendance of dignitaries such as Mr. Rajendra Raut, the Executive Member and Koshi Province Chairperson of the FNCCI; Mr. Hikmat Karki, the Honorable Chief Minister of Koshi Province; Nagesh Koirala, Mayor of Biratnagar Metropolitan City; Dr Lekhraj Dahal, Secretary; Mr. Pashupati Pokhrel, Department Head of Ministry of Industry, Agriculture and Cooperatives; Dr Saroj Koirala, Chief Executive Director of Koshi Provincial Investment Authority. It also drew interests from private equity and venture capital firms, including NIMB Capital, Global Equity Fund, Himalayan Capital, and Reliable Venture Capital Limited reflecting the program’s potential to foster a business-friendly environment in Koshi Province. 

"The interest from distinguished guests and private equity and venture capital firms indicates the program's potential to establish a sustainable foundation for business-friendly policies and environment in Koshi Province. "
Mr. Sanjay Dhoj Karki, Country Director, Swisscontact, Nepal.
Participating entrepreneurs of the acceleration program

From a pool of 80 promising applications, the program selected ten prospective agri-businesses spanning four districts of Koshi Province. Over the course of eight months, the program conducted two four-day bootcamps designed to expedite the growth trajectories of these enterprises and position them for potential investments. These sessions featured sector-specific experts who offered valuable insights into fundamental business principles while diving deep into topics specific to their respective industries. Collectively, these businesses represented the four key sectors prioritized by Sahaj: dairy, cardamom, vegetables, and maize along with promising areas such as tea, banana, avocado and fruits.

The growth of these businesses within Koshi Province holds the potential to trigger a positive economic cascade. It can directly and indirectly generate more jobs, thereby enhancing local livelihoods. Concurrently, businesses that procure raw materials from local farmers can bolster the agricultural sector, enhance food security, and contribute significantly to overall economic development in the region.

Furthermore, each business was paired with a mentor, offering guidance tailored to their specific risks and goals. This mentorship aspect played a vital role in nurturing the participating businesses, further enhancing their chances of success.

“The program encouraged small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow. The program should not be a one-time occurrence; instead, it should be a regular event which helps the SMEs grow their businesses domestically, encouraging the entrepreneurs to stay in the country rather than seek opportunities abroad. Moreover, these programs should expand to other provinces as well to foster regional economic development,” shared Ms. Sushma Sharma, Co-Founder/CEO, Phool Prasad Pvt. Ltd, Mentor and Entrepreneur.

Mr. Rajendra Raut, the Executive Member and Koshi Province Chairperson of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry presenting a token of appreciation to participant.

“The program provided solutions to my business by providing advisory support to address the high costs involved with resource management. Before this, I was not even aware that there were alternatives to banks for business financing,” shared Mr. Robin Rai, founder of Monkshood Krishi Firm Pvt. Ltd, Entrepreneur.

Sahaj's partnership with Aadhyanta was forged to empower agribusinesses in their pursuit of growth and scalability through product development, financial and business structuring, networking, and facilitating access to private capital. This collaboration strengthened Aadhyanta’s mission to foster entrepreneurial success and marked its inaugural venture beyond the confines of Kathmandu valley. The investment commitment serves as a resounding testament to not only the immense economic potential within the agriculture sector but also the overarching vitality of Koshi Province’s economy. Sahaj remains committed to nurturing enterprises, facilitating investment opportunities and supporting their path to sustained growth.

The businesses will engage in negotiation meetings to reach a consensus on both equity and debt on a larger scale. Additionally, they will receive post-investment support from Aadhyanta to facilitate their progress.

Sahaj is an SDC project implemented by a consortium of Swisscontact (as the lead agency) and CEAPRED.

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