Asia Seminar 2023
The main objectives of the Seminar were to meet and get to know the Swisscontact Asia team, orient the team on the 2028 strategy and deliver key messages to strategically position Swisscontact in Asia. The CEO highlighted the need for sustainable economic growth within the private sector.
The seminar brought together representatives from six countries in South Asia (SAI) and Southeast Asia (SEA) namely Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and the host country Nepal. It served as a platform for Swisscontact staff to gain insight into the Swisscontact Strategy 2028, presented by the CEO. The SAI and SEA teams shared regional updates throughout the two-day seminar and highlighted key developments in their respective countries. Furthermore, three distinct sessions were conducted, focusing on climate change, private sector engagement, and finance and technology.
During the event, the participants were provided with key insights, focusing on the implications and solutions to the challenges discussed and recognising priorities for Swisscontact to achieve its objectives.
Besides the Seminar, he took the opportunity to meet with project partners to better understand their involvement and the work they do. On May 24, he had an interactive meeting with Sector Skills Committee and also visited Upaya City Cargo and Nepal Dairy Pvt. Ltd.
Sector Skills Committee: Nepal Vocational Qualifications System project (NVQS-P) initiated establishing and strengthening Sector Skills Committees (SSCs) in Nepal with the aim of creating systematic collaboration of the private sector in defining occupations, identifying demand, and suggesting Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) providers for necessary arrangement and updates on the ongoing TVET processes. The CEO’s interactive meeting with SSCs concluded with an insight on the experiences of the SSCs and their involvement in the TVET system and Swisscontact’s work with the private sector so far.
Upaya City Cargo (UCC): Upaya City Cargo is a technology-driven logistics service provider committed to offering a wide range of logistics services for both intra-city and inter-city deliveries. Sahaj has partnered with Upaya to implement technology-based cold-chain logistics in the Koshi Province. The CEO along with the NAMDP project team visited and met with Mr. Suman Rayamajhi, the managing director of UCC and Nawang Sherpa, Project Manager. The purpose of the meeting was to understand start-ups scenario in Nepal and how NAMDP is helping them to test and pilot innovative logistics solutions in agriculture sector.
Nepal Dairy Pvt. Ltd. (NDs): The CASA project partnered with Nepal Dairy and provided TA support to develop the capacity of local micro-processors in rural areas of Nepal to produce dairy products conforming to the standards prescribed by NDs. The purpose of the visit was to understand the nature of support provided by CASA, its impact on private companies like Nepal Dairy and its development impact on smallholders.
These meetings allowed him to exchange ideas and gather valuable insights into the partners' perspectives and contributions to the project. By interacting directly with the project partners, he also learned about the challenges they were facing. These discussions helped him develop a comprehensive understanding of the partners' roles and how they fit into the overall project framework.
Panel Discussion on “SMEs and Sustainable Economic Growth”
On May 25, CEO Philippe Schneuwly took part in a panel discussion titled ‘SMEs and Sustainable Economic Growth’ organised by Swisscontact to provide insights into the state of SMEs in Nepal and their contribution to the economy.
Ms. Surakchya Adhikari, COO of Thulo Inc Pvt. Ltd, Mr. Manoj Paudel, Founder of Aadhyanta, Ms. Rewati Gurung, Founder of Kokroma, and Ms. Princi Koirala, Technology Entrepreneur joined the CEO in the panel to foster dialogue and synergies in achieving sustainable economic development by catalysing SME growth in Nepal. The Chair of Che&Co, Mr. Chewan Rai, moderated the session.
The guests included members from USAID, the European Union, FCDO, commercial banks, like-minded INGOs, founders of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and media fraternity. The panel discussion focused on the opportunities for the SME sector to grow further and play an important role in promoting sustainable economic growth and development.
During the discussion, Dr. Phillppe Schneuwly, 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.”
Despite SME growth, 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.
Ms. Adhikari emphasised the importance of digitisation and opined, “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, Ms. 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.”
After the discussion, Moderator Chewan Rai opened the floor for the audience to engage with the panel members. Mr. 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. 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.