Business Oxygen gets $7.3m from IFC

BO2, makes equity investments in Nepal’s high-growth small and medium enterprises (SMEs), helping them achieve their potential and create more jobs.

Business Oxygen (BO2), Nepal’s first private equity fund, is receiving another $7.3 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

The investment is being made through two funds managed by IFC, financed by the Climate Investment Funds and United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). This investment will help BO2 increase its financing for small businesses to help them cope with climate change, says a statement issued on Monday.

BO2, makes equity investments in Nepal’s high-growth small and medium enterprises (SMEs), helping them achieve their potential and create more jobs. IFC has

previously provided $7 million of its own funds to BO2 in 2015. In this fresh round of financing, the DFID brings in $3.7 million while the Climate Investment Fund’s Pilot Program for Climate Resilience contributes $3.6 million.

The BO2 investment is part of IFC’s SME Ventures programme for low-income countries where such funding is not available because of the risk profile and difficult operating conditions. For instance, only 39 percent of Nepal’s SMEs have access to finance, leaving a gap for funds such as BO2 to bridge.

“IFC’s increased support to Business Oxygen will boost our ability to engage with more small businesses,” the statement quoted Siddhant Raj Pandey, chairman and CEO of WLC Ventures, which manages BO2, as saying. “It puts us in a position to use innovative products and services to provide opportunities for farmers, create quality jobs, and promote energy efficiency.” SMEs are vital to Nepal’s economy. The

country’s 111,442 SMEs employ 1.75 million and account for 22 percent of the gross domestic product.

“Business Oxygen will help demonstrate the viability of climate-resilient investments in Nepal to other investors, helping to boost the market for similar investments here and in other frontier markets,” said Mohammad Rehan Rashid, IFC’s Resident Representative for Nepal. “The fund’s ability to provide risk capital to SMEs in Nepal provides a vital solution for firms too small or too new for traditional commercial bank financing.”

“The fund has the potential to create jobs and support economic growth. We know how important SMEs are in Nepal and we at DFID Nepal are committed to supporting them to achieve their growth potential,” said Gareth Weir, deputy head of DFID Nepal.

IFC aims to double its climate-related investments between 2016 and 2021 to 28 percent of its financing. A recent World Bank study showed that climate change could push more than 100 million people back into poverty over the next 15 years.

Published: 13-06-2017 08:32

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AgriBusiness Boot Camp a blueprint for success

Laxman Paudel, a resident of Dang, used to serve as a policeman. During the decade-long insurgency (1996-2006), he was forced to quit his job due to pressure from the Maoists.

He struggled to eke out a living for him and his family. He then worked as a vendor selling wrist watches in the tourist town of Pokhara. His business wasn’t that good. So, one of his friends suggested to him, sell spices instead.

“When I started the business, I had invested Rs400,” Paudel said. He added, “I used to sell black pepper syrup, turmeric powder, flour and other household materials, going  home to home.” His wife used to accompany him by selling fruits from a traditional Nepali bamboo basket.

His friend who introduced the idea of selling spices, sent him to India to train at a spice production factory. After his return, he founded Kalika BM Agro Company in 2009. Now he produces fibre flour, barley, black pepper syrup, and grounded pulse.

A few months ago, he participated in a fifteen-day fair in Butwal, where he showcased his products. At the fair his products sold like hot cakes. Paudel said he made a profit of Rs1.85 million in the fair. He sold 7, 000 black pepper syrup bottles at the fair.

Paudel had initially started his business on a leased land in Butwal but now at Nawalparasi’s Tulsi Nagar, he’s expanding his business on his own land.

Paudel participated in a two-month AgriBusiness Boot Camp 2017 recently hoping to expand his enterprise effectively. The program was organised by Nepal Entrepreneur Hub. 25 businesspeople and 50 participants along with Paudel took part in the first ever boot camp to promote agricultural business. The camp was supported by the World Bank and INFO DEV. The co-sponsor was Business Oxygen (BO2).

At the boot camp, the 25 business people have been learning to harness their skills to uplift their enterprises. The organisers believe that they will be able to help the selected agricultural businesspeople towards sustainable development. Moreover, the camp will help startup companies to execute their projects both financially and structurally.

Nepal Entrepreneur Hub’s Bijendra Joshi believes that the participants will be able to acquire required skills to boost their companies. Also, the participants will be taught by business experts on various topics such as import, supply chain, value added tax, market-focused expansion, the process of law, buying, distribution, investment, and partnership.

The selection process for the boot camp was strict to pick out the best of best.

Businesspeople and those who had new ideas along with startups were invited to fill out forms separately between February 12 and March 10. Altogether 641 had filled the forms, including 383 startups and 258 businesses. Both groups went through a pre-judging process round where only 65 startups and 46 businesses were selected.

The selected 46 businesses then went through “speed dating” on April 1, where only 20 were selected. Furthermore, 25 participants, 5 startups, and 20 businesses participated in the “AgriBusiness Boot Camp” from April 21 to 27. Every day the participants were trained in the supply chain, packaging, value production, customer segmentation, branding, finance, and sales and distribution. On the last day, participants gave their presentations. The judges selected  the top 20.

Nepal Entrepreneur Hub’s official Susan Karmacharya said that co-sponsor Business Oxygen will invest in seven outstanding projects. “This boot camp is a first of a kind in the world and even the World Bank plans to replicate the experience in other countries,” she said.

Published: 01-06-2017 09:08