Birat Expo is a week-long event organized every two years by the Chamber of Industries Morang (CIM) in Biratnagar, Province 1. CIM has been organizing the expo for the past 30 years to promote agro-industrial linkages in Province 1 and to support the commercialization of agriculture. The expo provides a platform to explore, discover, and promote new ideas to entrepreneurs, traders, investors, and other stakeholders. Swisscontact in Nepal collaborated with CIM for the expo through Swisscontact implemented Sahaj – Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme (NAMDP) Phase II, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Step Up projects.
One of the major attractions of the expo was the agro-industrial exhibition with the participation of international exhibitors providing a platform for business partnerships. More than 400 booths were occupied with exhibitors showcasing their products and services under various themes including industrial production, technology & services, agricultural goods and tools, machinery, and logistics.
Women-led small and medium-sized businesses from Province 1 were also amongst the exhibitors and displayed Chhurpi (commonly exported as aged hard cheese), candies from Illam, and handicrafts made of Allo from Taplejung. Sahaj programme’s eight private sector partners also set up their stalls in the exhibition.
“The collaboration with CIM for the expo will further help Swisscontact support business linkages and promote entrepreneurship in Province 1. It was a great platform to pilot innovations as the need for entrepreneurship is quite high in the province,” said Sanjay Karki, Country Director, Swisscontact Nepal.
One of the exhibiting partners of Sahaj programme, Nepal Can Move Pvt. Ltd. shared how being a part of the expo helped them to further promote their business. “We provide delivery and cargo services to over 1000+ locations but growing our audience remains a priority. Throughout the week long expo, we have had more than 100 visitors which, we believe, will increase the market reach for us,” shared Ashish Karmacharya, Nepal Can Move.
Step Up in partnership with the three municipalities (Biratnagar, Duhabi and Itahari) developed a labour market information system https://shramsansar.koshi.gov.np/ to provide a platform for key stakeholders in the employment and entrepreneurial ecosystem to collaborate and address the prevailing gaps in labour market. The Shramsansar stall promoted the web portal to various stakeholders and explained ways jobseekers can collaborate and benefit from the platform. A total of 80 participants visited the Shramsansar stall. With more than 300 businesses at the expo, the timing was apt for Step Up to launch the Shramsansar web portal helping businesses and jobseekers connect at one of the biggest expos in Nepal.
Apart from the exhibition, the event also featured sector-specific thematic conferences. Of the four themes, startup; skills and job; investment; tourism, Sahaj led a conference on start-ups and agribusiness development in Nepal that took place on 20th December.
“As my start-ups kept failing, I started analyzing the bottlenecks and realized how important it is to have teamwork, mentorship to gain knowledge on how to make a business plan, financial literacy and a five-year plan,” shared Gautam Gurung, co-founder of Organic Online. “On top of that, we need an information portal which should be accessible and comprehensible to all,” added Prakriti Gautam, co-founder of Khetipati Organics.
At the ‘Logistics Services for Agribusiness in Province 1: Sharing Experiences, Lesson Learnt, and Way Forward’ pane discussion, Sophia Tamang, founder of Mandala Agri-fresh shared, “15% to 40% food loss is a huge loss and is quite inevitable. To avoid this, we need to have more expertise on what technologies are required to extend the shelf life of different kinds of Agri-products.”
At Swisscontact we believe that together we can achieve more if we leverage resources and capital from the private sector to promote socially and environmentally responsible economic growth.