How is COVID-19 crisis affecting start-ups & social business of Nepal?

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The founder of Smart Tech Solution, Mr. Dibyesh Giri has invested in several start-ups in his domain and provides strategic direction to these companies. Apart from being an investor and an ecosystem builder, Mr. Dibyesh is co-founder of a  social venture Samarth Nepal that works to uplift marginalized women groups of Nepal through entrepreneurship.

To discover some challenges that SMEs are currently facing, we recorded one of our very first podcast episodes: “How COVID-19 crisis affecting start-ups and social businesses of Nepal?”- with Mr. Dibyesh. Find out what start-ups are doing to overcome this situation and gain some advice on what start-ups can do in this lockdown limbo by watching the full episode here.  Continue reading to find some of the interesting highlights of  this conversation:

How are Start-ups managing their day to day operations during lock-down? Although work from home is a fairly new concept in our country, many start-ups have adopted this policy. The companies that I am working with have mostly halted their marketing and sales activities and are primarily working on product development. They are working on backlogs and adding new features to existing products.

How are start-ups getting affected? Will they be able to resume their normal operations post lockdown?
The future for start-ups post lockdown is very uncertain because we do not know when our lives will go back to normalcy. While some start-ups like online food and medicine delivery are doing pretty well, most start-ups will face cash flow and liquidity problems in days to come.  Most start-ups have runway cash of a maximum of 3-4 months unless they figure out a way to sustain themselves.

How can different institutions support start-ups in these tough times?
The government has to be the key player in rescuing SMEs no one can substitute for the role that they can play. Saying this, VCs and investors invest in the potential of founders of the start-ups and they are going to continue supporting them. However, it is also important for start-ups to figure out how they are going to ensure their survival for the coming 3-4 months. This is the time to demonstrate their leadership skills, to test new verticals, or to adopt lean management.

What advice are you doling out to start-ups in your network?
This is an unusual time, any plans that you made last quarter will not work in these circumstances. So, I am helping start-ups to map their situation, assisting them to explore other sectors, engage with customers and employees. And, advising them to create social brand value. The key mantra is to innovate and evolve so that you can survive.

Is COVID-19 going to change how we do businesses in the long-run?COVID is going to bring big behavioral change in consumers. Online businesses are going to flourish and many businesses will now move online. Right now, tech companies are one of the least hard-hit sectors. However,  in the long-run, if all industries are going to suffer, tech companies are going to suffer too.

What message would you like to give out to start-up founders?
First of all stay safe and healthy. Secondly, prior to this, we have survived an earthquake and economic blockade, so don’t give up. It’s a global problem, and together we can overcome this as well. Lastly, this is an opportunity to figure out where you are, where you want to be and figure out changes and innovations that you can bring, so that your business can thrive in the days to come, maybe as soon as the lockdown is over.

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