Bringing entrepreneurs together
January 28 2020 10:19 PM

Usha Wagle Gautam

In this fast paced global economy, startup success hinges not just on the rate you innovate, but the speed at which you’re able to scale your business. As the world becomes more connected and broadly-available technology and breakthrough ideas enables startups to reach international markets faster than ever before, expansion beyond borders is on the radar for ambitious business leaders whose goal is rapid growth. Mahindra Chamlagai, President of Nepali Business Association (NBA), an umbrella organisation of Qatar based Nepalese businessmen, has been actively running his business in Qatar for about two decades. Where Mahindra understands the obstacles faced by businesses to go international, under NBA he and his team provides a platform to bring the businesses rooting from Qatar and Nepal even closer with bilateral investment and to promote trade relations. Nepal Chamber of Commerce recently appointed Mahindra as its representative in Qatar. He is also NRNA Middle East Business Co-ordinator of Visit Nepal 2020, an ambitious project that aims to bring two million tourists in Nepal this year. Community recently sat with Mahindra to discuss about Nepali businesses running in Qatar.

When was NBA established in Qatar?
NBA was established in 2017 under my leadership. There are about 60 members, and the organisation is recognised by the Embassy of Nepal. The organisation aims to become an umbrella organisation of all the Nepali entrepreneurs and businesses in Qatar. The other rationale of NBA is to bring the businesses rooting from Qatar and Nepal even closer with bilateral investment and to promote trade relations.

What sort of businesses and startups are run and initiated by Nepalis here in Qatar?
Due to favourable business landscape the number of Nepali enterprises is increasing every year. Most of the Nepali expats are into construction. Besides, there are more than a dozen restaurants in Doha serving authentic Nepali food. Many are into real estate, and there are retail shops run by Nepalis as well. There are enterprises that deal with cashmeres, green groceries, tea and tailoring run by Nepali women. There are more than 1,000 Nepali business establishments in Qatar. Many of them have established the businesses with the saving they earned in Qatar itself. We are trying to involve more and more Nepali business people in NBA.

What’s the working philosophy of NBA?
NBA works as an interlocutor between Qatar Chamber and Nepal Chamber of Commerce. We closely work with both the organisations to promote the flow of trade and investment between the two countries. We closely tie up with the Embassy of Nepal in several awareness programmes. We promote people-to-people relationship between the two countries. Likewise, we support and advise the aspiring businessmen and businesswomen on how to start a business in Qatar.

How and in which sectors can Qataris invest in Nepal? How can Nepal lure foreign investments?
Nepal has entered the phase of political stability. The government of Nepal is also seriously revising its policies to make it investment friendly. Qatari investors can conduct businesses or invest in various sectors, including hydropower, tourism and agriculture via direct assistance of Nepali Government. The new government policies also state Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as desired and welcomed. In terms of business potentials and resources, Nepal is still untapped. 

How can entrepreneurs and investors of the two countries be connected?
Nepal needs huge investments in building infrastructures, the sector in which Qataris proudly have mastered. It is an example. To make economic connection between the two countries, Nepal should work out to attract investors by further creating suitable provisions and guarantee the security of the investments. This engagement can be extended to the level of business communities between the countries.
One sector Qataris may want to invest or can excel is tourism. Many Qataris want to travel across the world, and if Qataris themselves invest in touristic and hospitality sectors, we can see the flux of Middle Eastern tourists in Nepal. There are other sectors like organic farming and hydropower. To deepen the economic relationship, we should identify the probable sectors in which Qataris feel comfortable to invest or in the areas of their expertise.

How NBA supports Visit Nepal 2020?
We are soon going to organise an event on Visit Nepal 2020 with notable personalities in attendance. There will be participation of over 100 Qataris. In the programme, we will introduce and advertise the programme and other prospects of Nepal to the Qataris. This is the first programme which will be followed by several promotional events.

What are the prospects and challenges faced by businesses in Qatar?
The business environment in Qatar is friendly. The agreement guarantees the security of the businesses. One should have a visionary business perspective, and then he or she will succeed tremendously. There are no ambiguities in Qatari policies — everything is crystal clear. All nationalities have equal right to set up a business as long as his or her papers are valid and are in order.

Any advice to aspiring Nepali entrepreneurs in Qatar?
Firstly, one should be an expert of the field in which he or she aspires to set up a business in. If one has a clear perspective of what one aspires to do, the business can be started with relatively small capital with prospects of aiming high. Honesty is another factor that determines the success of a business plan. If any of the problems arise in the enterprise, one has to solve by discussing with the stakeholders, shareholders and employees. We have to duly follow the fiscal rules, we have to pay taxes.

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