KFA Writes

Role of Nepali Entrepreneurs in Post Covid-19 Period

2020-04-16

Last week I authored an Article “Economic Impact of Covid-19 – In Context of Global and Nepalese Economies”, where I tried to highlight the overall economic impact of the Pandemic in Global and Nepalese scenarios.

In this article, I am trying to highlight the efforts required, more particularly by Nepali Entrepreneurs, on how to take forward structured entrepreneurial initiatives in, most important phase of our lives, the Post-Covid 19 scenario.

Lets get our Priorities right

The most affected section of the economy from this Pandemic is and will be our large labor force, which get paid on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. They are already eating less, they are under-nourished and are absolutely fearful about their and family’s, more particularly children and elderly people’s, future.

These labor force, which comprise about significant 35% of our population, must be protected. The first and foremost priority of ours must be to retain their jobs and also provide employment to our Nepalese laborers, who have already returned and will be returning forcefully from India, Middle East, Malaysia and other countries. Because of he slowdown in all economies around the Globe, our people working outside will be laid off and will be forced to come back to Nepal.

We, the entrepreneurs, must create avenues, start businesses, be most enterprising to create jobs for these people and ensure basic minimum cash flow for them to join their hands and mouth. Failing to do this might result in disastrous outcomes, including the worst possible consequence, to the extent of  ‘starvation’.  Hence, as far as possible, lets not shut our doors for the working class, even if we are not able to create additional jobs, which is anyway going to be highly challenging, lets not lay off people for the jobs for the maximum possible period of time. Lets remember, if we can keep them in payroll for 4 months, their family will be fed for 4 months, after which we can hope for the situation to start getting normalized. This is the time, we must think from humanitarian point of view. Our Balance Sheets, Cash Flows, Profits are all secondary compared to fighting ‘hunger’ of our people.

Expect least from the Government

Looking at the response Government has done so far to protect Entrepreneurs, lets not expect anything from them. This is unfortunate, but this is the reality. While several other Governments have already commenced relief packages to the extent of covering 80% of the Payroll for all businesses, our Government might not have even thought about this in their wildest dreams. I was talking to one of my seniors, who own a hotel. He was sharing with me that his Board’s focus at this point is in downsizing and restructuring his company, which means majority of the workforce working in the Hotel are going to loose their jobs. Revenues for the hotel have dried up completely, hence his Board is left with no option but to send people on leaves without pay and eventually shut the employment off. Has our Government assessed the impact of these shut downs? I doubt.

Like mentioned in my last article, our Finance Minister, being such an educated and well-exposed personality, having worked in IMF, Planning Commission and Central Bank in the highest capacities, what is he doing to stimulate our economy at the time of dire need for our Country? In the first place, why is he still double hatting Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Communication? Why is he still performing role of Government’s Official Speaker. Dear Prime Minister, please understand, at this point, Role of Finance Ministry is more than a full time Job. Rather than burdening him with another ministry and other workloads, how about providing additional support by giving him relevant team of advisors, who will support him at this point in need. At this point, our Finance Minister’s 100 percent focus must be in stimulating the economy, he should be working with his Finance Ministry colleagues day and night to revive and stimulate the economy. He must be working 24x7 in structuring sector-wise relief packages. This is basic common sense. I will be pleasantly surprised, if something in this line will come forward, but as an entrepreneur, I have no expectation. Therefore, would like to appeal the Entrepreneurial ecosystem to focus on production and value creation to keep the employment intact.

Sectors to focus by Entrepreneurs

Agriculture, agriculture and agriculture. During these times, we must focus on producing basic food materials to keep our population fed. Also basic food processing plants, across all agricultural products, must be on a priority list.

Other sectors like health, education, services, tourism, energy can continue to be our priority. Other ancillary sectors like communication, IT and HR must play their efficient roles to support above-mentioned core sectors. We must build our competitiveness in our core-strength areas. Going forward, our Financial system must be innovative enough to cater right financial products for our country, absolutely innovative practices in Micro and Municipal Financing must be accelerated and role of private sector must be enhanced. Venture capitalist and Private Equity Funds must be flexible in financing the start-ups and depart from their stringent rules of financing businesses. Central Bank (Nepal Rastra Bank), Securities Exchange Board, Insurance Board, along with their regulatory roles, must play the role of facilitating Banks, Capital and Insurance Companies.

In a nutshell, all of us must be enterprising and be able to place our vision beyond the box.

We encourage like-minded entrepreneurs to commence dialogue on possible collaboration to derive optimum synergy to take forward important entrepreneurial initiatives. KFA, who is in the business for last 19 years, in the areas of Training, Education and Consulting, is willing to collaborate and take forward important initiatives.

-Resta Jha

The Author is Chairman of KFA, leading Institute providing Training, Education and Consulting Services to various sectors in Nepal.

 

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