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Sep 29, 2017

How to trek to Shey Phoksundo Lake by land?

Since 2015, I had been planning to go on a trek to Shey Phoksundo, but one thing or the other was preventing me from doing it. This year, I finally managed to go on a trek to Shey Phoksundo Lake. Normally, the trekkers fly up to Juphal airport from Nepalgunj and start the trek. I, however, didn't want to fly. I wanted to reach Shey Phoksundo Lake by land. But the information was hard to come by since the majority of the people take the flight option. Therefore, I did some research, asked local people of Dolpa and the neighboring districts for information and figure out a more rewarding route to the lake. I did take a flight on the way back though as I did not want to walk the same route again. Me and six of my friends departed for the lake on 17th September and returned home on 27th September (11 days). Following is our itinerary. I hope this information will be useful for anyone wishing to trek to Shey Phoksundo by land.

Day 1: Depart from Kathmandu for Musikot, Rukum by bus

We took a night bus to Musikot, Rukum from the Gongabu Buspark. It is necessary to book the
tickets at least a day earlier or else you won't get seats. The bus departed at 1 pm, and the fare cost us Rs. 1,500 per person. The seats were comfortable enough, but the ride was too long (~23 hours). Therefore, you should make sure that the seats are comfortable and the bus has an AC.

During this travel, for the first time in my life, I saw a driver who could drive for 24 straight hours. And guess what, he looked fresher than us at the end of the journey and he drove very very cautiously. When we stopped for breakfast, he told us that 24 hours of driving was not even his record. His record is a straight 36 hours drive from Biratnagar to Rukum. God bless him!

Day 2: Musikot to Aathbiskot/Radi by Jeep

Shey Phoksundo Lake
We reached Musikot at around noon. Musikot is the headquarters of Rukum district and is a small
settlement atop a hill. We had our lunch in one of the several eateries present there. The food was decent, but we wasted a lot of time waiting for the food to be prepared. We should have grabbed an instant food item. We almost missed the vehicle to Aathbiskot/Radi. 2-3 Jeeps go to Aathbiskot from Musikot every day, but all of them leave before 1 pm. Luckily, we were seven people in our group, and we almost filled a Jeep. Therefore, an extra Jeep left for Aathbiskot that day. Else we would have to wait until the next morning for a ride. If you have fewer people in the group, I recommend you to get the vehicle first and then look for food. The local apples and bananas were incredibly delicious.

The road to Aathbiskot is very rough, but the scenery is amazing. We reached Aathbiskot at around 7 pm. We stayed in a teahouse near the vehicle stand.

Day 3: Aathbiskot - Khagenkot - Tallu - Tribeni - Khadang by Jeep

We had to walk for about 15 minutes from Aathbiskot to reach Khagenkot where we found a Jeep that took us up to Tallu. The ride was about 3 hours long. The road is slightly better than the previous one but rough nonetheless. We made a good decision of having a heavy breakfast before leaving.

Photo by: Anmol Bajracharya
On the way, we found a very beautiful waterfall. It is mesmerizing. The locals said they don't have a name for it. Therefore, we decided to name it Anmol Jharana. Make sure you stop the vehicle for a while and capture some beautiful photographs as we did.

On the way, we also saw a funeral procession of the local people. I had never seen anything like that. Dozens of people were walking downhill to the riverbank carrying an incredibly long piece of white cloth with red color at the ends. The cloth stretched from the top of the hill to the riverbank. It looked as if the hill had been painted with a white and red stripe along the walking trail. Our fellow passengers told us that the length of the cloth indicates the economic and social status of the deceased person. Once the cloth is brought down to the riverbank and the procession is completed, the cloth is given to the personal tailor(s) of the deceased person.

We reached Tallu at around noon. The dal bhat with local pickle was delicious. We spent an hour for the lunch break and hurried along the way because we had a long way ahead to our destination for the day.

We walked for about 5 minutes and crossed a trail-bridge to reach the other side of the river from where we could get a vehicle for up to Tribeni. The vehicle was jam-packed, but like everywhere in rural Nepal, the conductor managed to find a seat for every one of us even in the already packed vehicle. The ride was excruciating though - more than 19 people packed into a vehicle with 14 seats and it was super hot. The three-hour ride seemed like an eternity. We should have waited for another vehicle, but we were told that it was not certain whether another vehicle would come.

The track has been opened up to Khadang, but the Tribeni - Khadang section had not been inaugurated yet, so the vehicle dropped us at Tribeni. The track must have been inaugurated by now.

From Tribeni we asked a tractor for a lift. The experience was awesome. It felt like standing on a big vibrator and having your whole body vibrate. We had so much fun for almost two hours before we reached Khadang.

At Khadang, there were just two hotels that provided accommodation. We stayed at the Sharma Hotel. The dinner was delicious. They also served us the meat of blue sheep.Although rooms were available, we chose to sleep on the balcony in the open so that we could look at the night sky. It turned out to be a wise decision.

Day 4: Khadang - Tripurakot - Supani - Suligad - Kagani Village (9 hours of walking )

On day four, we woke up early in the morning, grabbed a breakfast of Satu and biscuits, packed our bags and departed at 7 am. We had to walk up to Supani before we could catch a vehicle for Suligad. We walked alongside the Bheri river which originates partly from Shey Phokundo Lake, our ultimate destination for the trek. The early morning scenery of the tall rocky hills and the ferocious river Bheri was amazing. I don't I am articulate enough to describe the beauty and serenity. After walking for around 2 hours, the trail narrowed down and moved along the rocky precipices. This part of the walk was terrifying. We had to almost crawl on all our fours at times, and the trail was so narrow that the stones we stumbled upon were falling to the river dozens of feet down below. The adrenaline rush lasted for almost an hour. We also met a few people who were cracking and breaking down the huge rocks to make way for a wider trail.

Photo by: Govinda Siwakoti
After walking for an hour, we reached a small village where an army personnel stopped us and told us to wait for an hour before walking ahead. He informed us that they were using explosives to break down rocks to widen the trail and were preventing people from traveling the trail while explosions were taking place.

So we decided to eat the lunch and prevent wasting time. While the lunch was being prepared, we tasted some local apples. Oh my, my! The apples were so delicious that every one of us ate at least two apples - the same people who hated eating apples found in Kathmandu. No wonder they talk so highly about the apples of Jumla, Mugu, and Dolpa.

After spending about one and a half hour playing ludo and having lunch, we resumed our journey. We walked for another 3 hours in scorching heat to reach Tripurakot where I drank six glasses of water. Yeah, I was that thirsty!

Then, we walked for another 30 minutes from Tripurakot to reach Supani where we found a vehicle waiting for us to take us to Suligad.

After driving for about 30 minutes, the vehicle dropped us at Suligad, the starting point of the trek. We registered our names at the Nepal Army post, ate some Dadims (sour pomegranates) from the nearby trees and started walking. It was almost 5:30 pm when we started our walk towards Kagani.

It took us two and a half hours to reach Kagani village although the locals said that it takes them only about 45 minutes to an hour. The trail is not very steep or difficult though. You just walk uphill for a few minutes and then downhill for a few minutes alongside the river. There are a few hotels in Kagani. We stayed in a hotel called Chhamkuni Hotel where the host served us one of the most delicious meals of the trip.

Day 5: Kagani - Sangta - Chhepka - Raichi - Jharana Hotel (10 hours of walking)

We left Kagani at 6:30 am after a heavy breakfast of biscuits and Satu. After walking for an hour, we reached a place called Sangta where we had tea in the only lodge available there. Then we walked for another three hours to reach Chhepka village which is one of the largest settlements in the route. An old woman served us delicious dal bhat and tea at her hotel in Chhepka.

Chhepka Village
At 11:30 am, we left Chhepka with the hope of reaching Jharana Hotel by the end of the day although the locals advised us that we should target reaching only Raichi if we didn't want to walk in the dark. But we wanted to reach Jharana Hotel that day so that we could reach Shey Phoksundo Lake early the next morning. We walked through countless uphills and downhills, crossed several trail-bridges, passed through varied landscapes to reach Jharana Hotel by 7:30 pm that evening. We were exhausted by the time we reached Jharana Hotel. If you are in no rush or in no mood to walk so much in a single day, I recommend you to stay at Raichi or Samjhana Hotel.

Our desire to reach Jharana Hotel was also fueled by the funny remark made by local women whom we met on the way. She lives in a tent house on the way to Raichi. She serves tea, coffee, and food to the passerby to generate income for her family. Here is an excerpt of our conversation:

Sonam Chhuki: Why are guys here?

Us: To visit the lake. We heard it is very beautiful.

Sonam Chhuki: Why would you bother to come such a long way just to see the lake. It's not that beautiful!

Us: Well, you have been living near it for your whole life, so it's not special for you. But I am sure it's going to be special for us. By the way, do you think we can make it to Jharana Hotel tonight?

Sonam Chhuki: I don't know. You guys seem to walk very slowly. Tell me, when did you reach Chhepka from Kagani today?

Us: At 10:30. 

Sonam Chhuki: When did you leave Kagani?

Us: err... umm... 6:30 am.

Sonam Chhuki: (Gasps) Hahaha, that long? You guys won't reach Jharana Hotel even by 10 in the evening. Hahaha! 

Us: (Smile meekly)

The lady at Jharana Hotel was very hospitable and friendly, and it was one of the better accommodations we found on the trip.

Day 6: Jharana Hotel - Ringmo - Shey Phoksundo (4 hours of walking)

The trail becomes very steep, almost vertical from Jharana Hotel. We left the hotel at 7:30 am after a heavy breakfast of tea, Satu, biscuits, chocolates, and Dalmoth Chiura. The locals are said to take just two hours to reach the Lake, but it took us almost four hours. The delay in part was due to the numerous breaks we took to take photographs. For almost three hours, we walked steep uphill to reach a place called Hawa Ghar which has a small hut where you can rest and observe the scenery.

Jharana Hotel
From Hawa Ghar, it took us an hour of walk to reach the Shey Phoksundo Lake. The walk from Hawa Ghar is relatively easy, and the trail is so beautiful with trees of different colors shedding different colored leaves on the trail.

We reached Shey Phokundo at around 11:30 am and were instantly pulled into the charms of its beauty and magnificence. Looking at its deep blue and serene waters, we forgot the passage of time. Hours felt like a few minutes in the presence of Shey Phoksundo Lake. It was worth all the trouble.

We spent the whole day roaming around the lake and taking hundreds of pictures and spent the night at a nearby hotel. The next morning too, we spent hours absorbing the beauty and serenity of the lake and making our best efforts to capture the lake in our cameras.

Day 7: Shey Phoksundo to Chhepka  (10 hours of walking)

We left the lake (unwillingly of course!) at 9 am and started our journey back. We retraced the trail throughout the day to reach Chhepka where the same old lady welcomed us with tea and served us delicious dinner. We were exhausted this day because we had to walk until 8 pm continuously. If you don't want to do that, I suggest you to either start earlier from the lake or stay at Raichi.

Day 8: Chhepka - Sangta - Kagani - Suligad - Dunai - Juphal (5 hours of walking)

Origin of Bheri River
Day 8 didn't involve much walking. We walked for about 4 hours to reach Suligad where we were hoping to catch a vehicle to Dunai. We waited for a vehicle for almost an hour. Two of them arrived but were so packed that we decided we better walk. We walked for about 40 minutes to reach Dunai, the district headquarters of Dolpa. We ate Dal Bhat at Blue Sheep Inn which seemed to be the most popular restaurant in Dunai. The restaurant well deserved the popularity. The food was delicious - comparable to any Thakali Bhanchha Ghar in Kathmandu.

At 4 pm, we left for Juphal in a Jeep as we had decided to return on a flight. We reached Juphal by nightfall. As we asked around, we found that it would be almost impossible to find the tickets for the flight next morning. One has to book the flights at least 24 hours earlier. Worried, we looked for a way out. Then, we found out that a certain hotel owner was also the manager of the flight bookings. So, we went to his hotel and asked if he could arrange tickets for us and if we could stay at his hotel. He was happy to do both.

Day 9: Juphal to Nepalgunj

Juphal Airport
We were at the airport by 6:30 and the flight were on because the weather was clear. But unfortunately, two patients arrived at the airport who needed to fly to Nepalgunj for treatment immediately. We could not say no. Therefore, only five of us flew to Nepalgunj and gave up two seats for the patients. We waited for our friends in Nepalgunj for a day and returned to Kathmandu the next day on a night bus.

The plus point of having to stay in Nepalgunj? We discovered an amazing Biryani place called Mubarak Biryani at Fultekra Road. A must try if you are a Biryani lover!!

Some Useful Information:

Total Cost of the Trek: Rs. 18,000 per person
Total Days Taken: 10 Days
Need to Carry Tents? No
Need to Carry Sleeping Bags? No.

Things to Carry:

1. Warm clothes (2-3 pairs, a wind cheater is also recommended)
2. Comfortable and sturdy trekking shoes
3. Raincoat/umbrella
4. Torch Light (Of good quality) + a few lighters + head light (can be purchased in thamel)
5. First aid (basic medicines) plus if you have any medical condition specific medicines
6. Sleeping Bag (Optional)
8. A swiss knife (Optional)
9. A map (Can be purchased in Thamel)
10. Walking stick ( Optional)
11. 4-5 pairs of socks ( the more the better)
12. Water bottle +Sunscream +sunglasses (optional) + Toileteries like tooth-brush, paste, soaps, shampoos
13. Watch (To keep track of time in absence of cellphone)

Apr 4, 2017

Database of organizations/programs/projects that support entrepreneurship in Nepal

Thank you, my dear readers, for liking my last post on 30 cheap business ideas. The response was more than I had hoped for. In this post, I am presenting you the list of organization, programs, projects and initiatives that are supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in Nepal. I have noticed that many people were looking for a comprehensive list of organizations and initiatives supporting entrepreneurship in Nepal but no such public list exists. Therefore, I have decided to create this list.

If you know of any such organization or initiative please feel free to mention them in the comments below:

A. Groups/Interaction Programs

1. Entrepreneurs for Nepal

Entrepreneurs for Nepal is a loose network of thousands of entrepreneurs in Nepal. It was co-founded by Ujwal Thapa, Ashutosh Tiwari, Sagar Onta, and Jaya Budhathoki in 2008.

It organizes a monthly interaction program called Last Thursdays with an Entrepreneur and runs a very vibrant group on Facebook. Entrepreneurs help each other out in the group by providing information and contacts.

2. Last Thursdays with an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs for Nepal, Samriddhi Foundation, and Biruwa Ventures used to conduct a monthly interaction program with a successful entrepreneur. Known as Last Thursdays with an Entrepreneur, the program used to draw a crowd of dozens of aspiring entrepreneurs and youth as well as well-established entrepreneurs. A successful entrepreneur shared about his/her entrepreneurial journey and answered the questions of the participants. You can find the briefs of past events here, and here.

Last Thursdays with an Entrepreneur is also being conducted in Biratnagar by Bikalpa - An Alternative.

3. Startups Nepal
Startups Nepal is the startup community of Nepal. It conducts entrepreneurship boot camps and various other activities related to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

4. Nepal Entrepreneur's Hub
Nepal Entrepreneurs’ Hub is dedicated to nurture entrepreneurship, support startup communities, contribute towards a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and facilitate investment in budding, small and medium enterprises. It is the organizer of Startup Weekend in Nepal and several other programs focused on startups.

B. Incubators

1. Yunus Social Business Center at King's College
Yunus Social Business Center at King's College supports ventures between idea stage to 1.5 years of operation. It provides 17 weeks of training before matching the startups with the potential investors.

2. Kathmandu University Business Incubation Center
Kathmandu University Business Incubation Center provides training programs on entrepreneurship and helps individuals develop specific skills to become potential entrepreneurs.

3. Idea Studio
Idea Studio provides training and funding to new innovative ideas and early stage enterprises. It also runs a reality TV show where people with innovative ideas can pitch for investment.

4. Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal
Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal has a couple of programs that helps early staged technology startups with all right resources, software, support & marketing visibility like BizSpark, WebsiteSpark, and StartupWeekend. If you are approaching this opportunity, make sure that your startup is primarily technology based.

5. Himalayan Climate Initiative
Himalayan Climate Initiative has a Social Innovation and Business Incubation Hub in four locations across the country and incubates social enterprises.

6. Nepal Social Business
Nepal Social Business is a joint initiative of Chaudhary Group and Lions Club International. It is working to incubate 5,000 social businesses in Jumla.

7. Nepal Engineers Association Business Incubation Center
Nepal Engineers Association has also been running an incubation center for engineering related startups at its central office in Pulchowk. Currently, it is incubating four companies.

8. Nepal Agribusiness Incubation Center (NABIC)
NABIC is Nepal’s first agri-focused business incubator and innovation platform. They provide holistic services to support and enhance innovation, growth and competitiveness of agribusinesses.

9. I-Cube Business Incubation ProgramI-Cube Business Incubation Program is a holistic business incubation program designed to support Nepali businesses to build a strong foundation for growth and success. It is operated by Nepal Communitere.

C. Accelerators

1. Rockstart Impact
Rockstart is one of the top accelerators of Europe. It was launched in Nepal as Rockstart Impact in 2014 by One to Watch. If your company has already developed a minimal viable product (MVP) and provides innovative solutions for the demanding sectors such as food & agriculture, health-care, and energy, you can apply for their program. Rockstart Impact provides 100 days of training and mentoring to the selected companies and connects them to the potential investors at the end of their program. It has already accelerated 20 companies out which 16 have received investment pledges. The investments range between 100 thousand to 500 thousand Euros.

2. Enterprise (Nepal Business Accelerator Program) 
Enterprise is run by a Nepali company called True North Associates. It seeks to mentor newly set up Nepalese companies to build better products, raise funds, and move to the next level of business growth.Companies that are at least two years old and have a good track record of growth can apply for this accelerator. If selected, the companies are provided 12 weeks of intensive training and made ready for investment. At the end, the companies are connected to the potential investors.

3. Women Rural Enterprises Accelerator Program
The program is run by Daayitwa and provides support to women-run enterprises in rural Nepal. It is currently focused in Palpa.

4. NEXT Venture Corp
Next Venture Corp runs NEXT Launchpad, a mentorship-driven accelerator program where early stage startups take their business to the next level. The company also carries out short courses and other activities related to entrepreneurship.

5. Slush Global Impact Accelerator
Slush Global Impact Accelerator was created by Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in collaboration with multiple partners globally. In Nepal, it is run by Young Innovations Pvt. Ltd. Selected entrepreneurs from Nepal are given an opportunity to present their ideas int the global program.

D. Seed Funds

1. Antarprerana
Co-founded by Niraj Khanal and Om Rajbhandari in 2016, Antarprerana provides seed funds to promising entrepreneurs to start their ventures. It also provides various other support programs to harness their skills and capacities. It aims to support 100 entrepreneurs by 2025.

2. WDAC Impact Investment Fund
Women Development Advocacy Center based in Janakpur operates an Impact Investment Fund that targets small and medium enterprises run by women in the rural region.

3. Youth Self-Employment Fund
 Youth Self-Employment Fund was created in 2008 by the Government of Nepal during the tenure of Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. The Fund provides a loan of up to NRs.2,00,000 to youth seeking to start their own enterprises. The loan is administered through local cooperatives and is provided to businesses such as commercial farming, livestock farming, traditional knowledge-based enterprises, homestays etc.

E. Think Tanks/ Policy Advocates

1. Samriddhi Foundation
Established in 2006 with the vision of a free and prosperous Nepal, Samriddhi Foundation conducts undertakes research & publication, education & training, and public advocacy and outreach to create a better business and investment environment in Nepal. They have publications on various issues related to entrepreneurship including ground realities of doing business in Nepalforeign direct investment, contract enforcement, and company exit.

2. Nepal Prosperity Institute
Established in 2017, Nepal Prosperity Institute also works for a more prosperous Nepal by contributing to the areas of financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and economic reform.

F. Education/Courses

1. King's College
King's College not only has an MBA program on entrepreneurship but also various programs and activities surrounding entrepreneurship. The college has developed itself as a very happening place for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. If you are looking for an academic degree or short-term executive courses, King's college is the right place!

2. Nepal School of Entrepreneurship
Nepal School of Entrepreneurship is a business and design school for leadership and entrepreneurship, which aims to provide best entrepreneurial education. It has partnered with Kaospilot of Denmark for the approach of learning and teaching. It operates short term courses useful for entrepreneurs.

G. Training/Advice

1. Biruwa Ventures
Biruwa Ventures is a well-known name in the field of entrepreneurship in Nepal. It provides consulting services to early stage ventures and also provides office sharing services.

2. Institute for Suitable Actions for Prosperity (ISAP)
Institute for Suitable Actions for Prosperity has various programs supporting entrepreneurs, especially agro-entrepreneurs. Its Udhyami Fellowship provides technical and managerial training to agricultural entrepreneurs.

3. Industrial Enterprise Development Institute
The Industrial Enterprise Development Institute is a national resource organization committed to entrepreneurship development through training, research, consultancy and enterprise education. It is mainly focused on providing business related trainings.

H. Projects

1. Samarth - Nepal Market Development Programme
Samarth-NMDP is a UKAid funded project that supports smallholder farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs. If your enterprise is critical in changing the function and behavior of the market players in your sector, you are likely to get the support from Samarth. Samarth provides support to dairies, fisheries, ginger farming, pig farming, tourism and vegetable farming.

2. High Mountain Agribusiness and Livelihood Improvement (HIMALI)
HIMALI project is being run by the Government of Nepal with the support from Asian Development Bank. It works for "value chain development of their agricultural, livestock and NTF products and improves the rural household livelihoods in high mountain districts of Nepal". It supports agricultural enterprises in the following districts: Dolakha, Dolpa, Hulma, Jumla, Manang, Mugu, Mustang, Rasuwa, Sankhuwasabha, and Solukhumbu.

3. Micro Enterprise Development for Poverty Alleviation (MEDPA, formerly MEDEP)
Micro Enterprise Development for Poverty Alleviation (MEDPA) is run by the Government of Nepal with the support from United Nations Development Programme and Australian Aid. It helps low-income families become entrepreneurs by providing training and financial support. It also helps in the promotion of small scale enterprises.

4. Employment Fund (HELVETAS)
Employment Fund is funded by Swiss Development Corporation and UKAid and operated by HELVETAS. It provides market-oriented skills training for economically very poor and socially discriminated youths. It also helps those youth start their own enterprises.

I. Private Equity

1. One to Watch
One to Watch is a Dutch equity fund. It invests in ventures/companies that have the potential to make a social impact along with making a profit. They usually invest more than 100,000 Euros in a venture. One to Watch funds and operates Rockstart but they also make direct investments.

2. Dolma Impact Fund
Dolma Impact Fund is "the first international private equity and impact fund dedicated to Nepal". It provides capital and expertise to growth companies in Nepal.

3. Business Oxygen
Business Oxygen  is Nepal's first private equity fund and is a part of International Finance Corporation's SME Ventures initiative. It helps entrepreneurs running Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to scale up their operations by providing capital and technical assistance.

4. True North Associates
True North Associates is the company behind Enterprise - Nepal Business Accelerator Program. It injects capital into businesses with growth potential.

J. Media

1. Bizmandu
Bizmandu is one of the most popular economic news portals of Nepal. It regularly features stories of successful or innovative entrepreneurs and enterprises.

2. GlocalKhabar
Glocalkhabar regularly features start-ups. Although its reach may not be as much as that of Bizmandu, Glocalkhabar provides the platform to companies even at their early stages.

3. Business 360
Business 360 is Nepal's leading business magazine. It features stories of all levels of businesses, from startups to multinationals.

4. Youthsera
Youthsera features inspirational stories of innovative startups of Nepal and abroad. It has already featured over 300 articles related to startups.

Feb 1, 2017

30 Businesses that you can start for less than the cost of an iPhone

Once in a while, I get invited to talk about entrepreneurship to college students and youth groups. I generally talk about the economy of Nepal, the high unemployment rates, the need for youth to embrace entrepreneurship, and some myths and realities surrounding entrepreneurship. Most of the time, after the talk, the students come up to me and say, "I am inspired. I had always wanted to do something on my own. But the problem is I don't have money and my parents won't give me the capital I need to start my business." And a little while later, those same students can be seen talking on their shiny smartphones, most of the time, an iPhone. I have been annoyed, disappointed, and sad at times to see them not realizing the fact that if you truly want to be an entrepreneur, you don't need a truckload of money. Even the greatest of the businesses that we see around started small. Then, I proceed on to tell them a number of businesses that they could have started for the cost of that iPhone. Similarly, I have noticed several threads in the Entrepreneurs for Nepal group on Facebook asking about business ideas that can be started with a small amount of money. Therefore, I decided to list down a few businesses that were started with a small or no investment. I also asked around my entrepreneur friends to know how much they invested initially while starting their businesses. 

I have managed to come up with 30 business ideas that can be started for less than the cost of an iPhone (around 1 Lakh Nepalese Rupees). They are applicable in the context of Nepal. I think some of them are applicable elsewhere as well. If I have missed any idea or underestimated the cost of a particular, please let me know by commenting below. I will add the good ideas that I receive from you. I hope this will be useful for aspiring entrepreneurs of Nepal and abroad.

Here are the ideas in no particular order:

1. Audio-Visual Company 
I can confirm that this idea works because I have done it. With my two friends, I started Onion Films Nepal in 2011 with practically no capital. We utilized Govinda's photography and videography skills Bibhu's hard work and my communication skills and network to start the company. We drew on the support of our friends and families to organize a workshop on movie-making for young people and used the saved money to organize more workshops. Later on, we used the saved money to formally start the company and used the network of our graduates to get clients.

If you have good photography and videography skills and an interest in visual media, this is the idea for you!

2. Translation and Research Agency
This idea works too. Nikunja Bhandari and I came up with the idea of starting a translation agency when we observed the increasing demand for good translators and content developers, especially in the non-profit sector. We used our networks to find our first client who gave us the assignment of translating their brochure. Working for a few more organizations, we saved enough money to formally register the company which we named Nepal Language and Research Solutions.

If you have good language skills and good research experience, this is the idea for you.

3. Online Shopping
Online shopping sites are increasing exponentially in Nepal and I think the market is yet to be saturated. I know a few people who have been making a good deal of money by opening a Facebook page, hunting for cheapest prices and selling them through the page. If you can cater to niche markets there is still a good enough market for yet another online business. 

4. Rabbit Farming
Photo Credit: Jessica Reeder
As Ujjwal Chapagain of The Himalayan Rabbit Farm points out, rabbit farming can be started on a
small scale for as little as Rs. 50,000. By the way, he is also very happy to help you out if you are interested in this.

5. Website Design and Development
Have good website designing and programming skills? Just make a website, offer to make websites for free or low cost for a few clients, make a portfolio and off you go!

6. Graphic Designing 
Either there is a shortage of good graphic designers or I am looking at the wrong place, If you have good graphic design skills, you can just start designing stuff, put up your portfolio and seek out clients. As organizations are getting more and more brand conscious and thousands of businesses are being started every day, the need for graphic designing is only going to increase.

7. Social Media Management
If you love hanging out in the social media networks and are good at handling them, why not start managing social media profiles of organizations and celebrities?

8. Event Management
We used to conduct a workshop on entrepreneurship at Samriddhi Foundation, event management was one of the most popular business ideas among our graduates. And most of them are successful and running till date.

9. Mo:mo Pasal
Nepalese insatiable desire for quality Mo: Mo is ever increasing and there is a growing demand for shops serving authentic momos. If you have a knack for making authentic, mouth-watering momos, this may be what you are looking for. There is also quite a space for experimentation and discovery of new momo varieties.

10. Beekeeping
Rent a piece of land in the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley or outside the valley, build a few hives and off you go! Various entrepreneurship-related programmes of donor agencies in Nepal have also been providing support to beekeeping. If you have any questions on how to start, Anil Parajuli might be able to help you.

Photo Credit: Nepal Mountain News
11. Mushroom Farming
Gone are the days when mushrooms were only collected in the wild, mushroom farming is growing leaps and bounds these days. Although the capital requirement is not high and the rate of return is good, you will need to have a good technical knowledge of the farming techniques. Don't worry, though. You can get the knowledge easily and on your own. Saroj Karki might be able to answer your questions if you have any, Here is an example of successful mushroom farming that was started for little money.

12. YouTube Channel
If you have any specific skills such as cooking, programming, writing, playing a musical instrument, foreign languages that other people might find interesting, then you can start a YouTube channel, post original and helpful content and start making money from ads.

Photo Credit: Homegrown.co.in
13. Secondhand Bookshop
An online, as well as a physical secondhand bookshop would be a great idea to start with less capital.
There is a demand for the secondhand course as well as non-course books, especially the novels. There are a few such shops in Jamal and Putalisadak and there are lots of street booksellers in front of  NAC building in Sundhara. If you could establish that has as many books but with the more welcoming environment, I am sure people will flock to your shop.

14. Tuition Center
The majority of my friends got their first salary by providing tuition classes. If you are good at and love teaching, you can start a tuition center, provide good services, and expand. You can also combine this idea with the idea of YouTube Channel and provide a few classes for free through YouTube and attract students to your classes.

Photo Credit: TNAU Agritech Portal
15. Poultry Farming
Poultry farming is booming in Nepal. It is estimated that around 3.5 percent of the GDP is contributed by this sector and around 65 billion rupees has already been invested. Because of this boom, Nepal has become self-sufficient in poultry products. For you as an aspiring poultry farmer, what this means is that most of the support mechanism that you will need are in place already. All you need is to start! Check out this video to get an idea on how to start.

16. Homestay Tourism
If you come from a beautiful village and have a house that has a great view, you could start homestay tourism. Just renovate your house, add a few facilities the tourists will like and you are good to go. It will definitely help if you can convince your neighbors in the village to do the same. Saurav Dhakal might be able to help you on this.

17.  Rooftop Farming
On the other hand, if you are an urbanite and have a house in Kathmandu, you could start a rooftop farming of organic vegetables and selected fruits. With the growing concerns of the use of pesticide in commercially farmed vegetables and fruits, people are seeking organic and healthier vegetables and fruits. Why not start a rooftop farming and maybe help your neighbors to do the same? If you need expert's assistance, these guys can help. 

18. Vegetable Farming
As mentioned earlier, the demand for organic and pesticide free vegetables is growing. Therefore,
you can start a full-fledged vegetable farming as well. You can rent a land in the outskirts of Kathmandu or a district just outside the valley and start growing vegetables that are in demand in the valley.

19. Lunch Box 
With more and more people entering the formal workforce and lifestyle getting busier, the demand for services that deliver lunch to the offices is increasing. If you are good at cooking, you can start delivering lunches to offices. You can start this from home initially and expand later on.

20. Delivery Business
By the way, lunch boxes are not the only thing that you can deliver. Businesses delivering all sorts of goods or helping people and offices shift places is also increasing. You can hire a vehicle, coordinate the delivery or shifting process and build a business doing that.

21. Travel and Tours Company
There are tons of travel and tours companies catering to international tourists. Therefore, I don't think
it makes sense to establish another one of similar nature. However, there is a market for domestic tourists too, especially the college students. You can start a company specializing on conducting educational, industrial, and recreational tours for colleges and universities.

22. Meat Shop
With the growing income of Nepalese, the meat consumption is on the rise. It is estimated that Kathmandu Valley alone consumes 20 million rupees worth of meat daily. And it is increasing rapidly. If you can ensure good hygiene and quality in your shop, I am sure your business will grow steadily.

23. Vegetable Shop
As discussed above, the demand for organic and healthy vegetables is growing day by day. Although there are countless vegetables shops and vendors, if you could ensure that your vegetables are organic and free of pesticides, there is a business opportunity. By the way, you could also add the service of home delivery of the vegetables.

24. Online News Portal
As you must have noticed, online news portals are spreading like an epidemic these days in Nepal. Easy to set up and compete, online news portal could be your thing if you are a student of journalism or media or if you have already been working for a media house but want to start something on your own. I think, now it's time for specific online news portals as there are too many general news portals already. By the way, I have compiled a list of 20 most popular news portals of Nepal here. 

25. Photography Services
From wedding photography to product photography, demand for photography services is on the rise. The growth of e-commerce sites, as well as online news portals, has fueled the demand. I think, its the best time to take up photography and harnessing your visual communications skills.

26. Music Lessons
If you are good at playing an instrument or creating music, you can offer your lessons for a fee. By
Photo Credit: Andrew Yee
the way, there is a growing demand for Nepali music composition for movies and documentaries, even for short videos. Many times our clients have asked us to put a Nepali music on the soundtrack of the videos we were making for them. It was quite difficult to find original compositions, though.

27. Street Food Stall
If you have good cooking skills, you could take them to the street in a food stall. From Pani Puri, Shyabhale, Momo to Burger, you could sell any food items on a mobile stall these days. And guess what, many of these street food vendors are making more money than office employees in any sector. Maybe you can come up with newer food items to sell on the street!

28. Selling Organic Food Produce
If your family or your neighbors in your village have been growing organic food products, you could collect from all of them and sell them in the cities or through online. You can learn from Green Growth started by Saurav Dhakal.

29. Marketing and Research
If you have a BBA/MBA degree or a good research experience, you can start a marketing and research firm. Start with small clients who are looking for cheaper options, provide them a great service, and use their recommendations to climb higher. You can also come up with a great informative/entertaining product to build your brand like Facts Nepal did with its daily infographics.

30. Bag Manufacturing
Have you ever come across Shivakoti Bags? It is one of the rapidly growing brands of Nepal. The business was started by two Shivakoti brothers with a capital of around NRs. 50,000 (~500 USD) around one and a half decade ago. Now, their annual transaction is over 4 Crore Nepalese rupees. You could do this too!

That's all from me! Please add your ideas by commenting below!