GOInternational Finland is now in the mid-stages of setting up a joint venture initiative and subsidiary in Nepal, to aid the entry of Finnish SMEs to the market by becoming as a local service provider on the ground.
Extensive early-stage market research has been conducted in the territory; familiarization with the operating conditions of Nepal (understanding of the ecosystem players and market conditions). Based on this research, the overarching objective is to now create long-term, self-supporting and revenue-generating pilots in the country, thereby establishing supra-national businesses and business relationships.
Pre-Feasibility Stage Achievements:
Over the last 12 months, GOInternational Finland has been in the process of identifying the challenges in Nepal, that need to be solved through engagement with potential Nepalese stakeholders with whom the challenges can be addressed. At the same time, the company has been identifying Finnish expertise and solution providers who can begin solving the problems Nepal faces; effectively generating specific business opportunities for Finnish Innovators in targeted thematic and geographical areas.
With the rapid growth of the middle class and the youth population occupying half of the total population, Nepal is emerging as an important growth market, especially in the area of international education. Between 2016-2020, Finland is actively supporting Nepal’s education sector by means of a EUR 20 million investment for the development of quality education and for the reduction of inequality. According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in July 2017, education is the second of Finland’s three main targets of support in Nepal.
However, the differences in language, culture and the diverse geographic structure can stand as barriers to entry for foreign companies. With GOInternational Finland’s strong partner networks, we’re now on course, in the coming months, to open development platforms, to connect companies, to provide concrete steps and projects for market entry, with an aim for scalability.
The Nepal-Finland Innovation Cluster project will focus on 3 tracks: Education Innovation, HealthTech and Smart Cities.
In ‘Education Innovation’ the objectives are to provide Finnish Education with a strong foothold in Nepal, beginning with a pilot program, effectively creating access to long-term market share in the education market in South & Southeast Asia. To accomplish this, the Finnish Education brand will be established in the minds of key Nepalese stakeholders and through partnerships forged with elite Nepalese education institutions. GOInternational Finland, along with its partners, have unparalleled reach within the Nepalese education & innovation ecosystems alongside other key stakeholders.
One of the programmes inside the Education Innovation track will be the “Incubator to Incubator”. Universities with a research focus are an ideal breeding ground for incubating new ideas and technologies. Selling, licensing, or establishing a company based on university research projects are key ways of commercialising and often delivering broad societal and economic impacts.
The Incubator to Incubator programme focuses on building relationships between startup incubators in Finland and in Nepal. Nordic startups whose innovations can be frugally hacked and sold to developing countries, and Nepalese startups looking to enter Europe would be ideal targets. This programme promotes the creation of strategic cooperation between industrial enterprises and international universities, with activities around the year including residency programmes in Finland and abroad for selected startups. It provides job opportunities for international students and an entrepreneurial aspect to the learning and research environment within educational institutions.
In ‘HealthTech’ and ‘Smart Cities’; A 2016 report by the Finnish Health Technology Association revealed that health technology exports from Finland have grown by 6.6% on the previous year. In order for GOInternational Finland to co-create networking between Nordic and Nepalese Healthtech innovators, the company is engaging with relevant startups in Nepal. Most notably, GOInternational Finland has established a dialogue with the National Medical College of Nepal. ‘Smart City’ isn’t a widely known concept in Nepal, and GOInternational Finland is keen to share Finnish Know-how in this sector.
Besides tremendous positive economic, social and environmental impacts, there may be unknowing negative ones. On the one hand, bringing Finnish companies to enter the Nepalese market could create tougher competition for domestic companies already operating within the country. However, with our business model, GOInternational Finland’s focus is to create business collaborations and to accelerate partnerships involving both countries’ stakeholders, thus creating long-term, win-win situations.
In close collaboration with local partners, Kantipur Media Group and M&S, the next steps are to complete the feasibility studies and kick-start specific projects by mid 2018.
M&S Next Venture Corp is a fully-fledged support system for entrepreneurs in Nepal. With their local connections, M&S has been identified as an important player for on-boarding value-added Nepalese stakeholders.
To build brand & service awareness for GOInternational Finland in Nepal, Founder and CEO, Mohammad Shabbir was invited to speak at Next Growth Conclave 2017 on Dec 22, 2017. The event, organised by M&S, is Nepal’s largest entrepreneurship conference garnering attendance from approx.1500 global speakers.
As an experienced CEO with a successful history of working in international trade & development, Shabbir shared insights on Scalability, Innovation Management and Cross-Border collaboration; citing GOInternational Finland’s flagship initiative, The Indo-Finnish Market Entry Acceleration Programme, which is actively driving cross-border collaboration between India & Finland (and the Nordics) on delivering smart cities and villages in India. The programme can be reformatted to create international opportunities for Nepalese solutions. Quotes:
‘If you want to change anything in the Nepalese economy, you need to introduce a systematic process of identifying what a startup is and defining entrepreneurship as a whole. This can be achieved if education is improved; similar to the what is being done in Finland.
And the government needs to play a major part, providing funds and identifying startups in certain categories that are doing well. For example, Finland takes pride in their education, gaming, clean energy startups and they are building on these startup categories.’
Accompanying Mr Shabbir in Nepal was, Chandrashekar Challagonda, CEO of APinf Oy (a Finnish company). APInf is currently participating in GOInternational Finland’s Indo-Fin Market Entry Acceleration Programme, and joined the December 2017 trip to Nepal on an R&D mission to explore how the company’s solution could fit the Nepalese market (engaging with, for example, Sarathi Cab, The Nepal Police, Smart Tech Solution PVT. LTD and Kantipur Digital Corp).