KATHMANDU,May 26: Entrepreneurs for Nepal (EFN) and Samriddhi jointly host a networking event every last Thursday of each month, where successful entrepreneurs share their knowledge with others.
In March, Hari Bhakta Sharma, founder of Deurali Janata Pharmaceuticals, spoke about his experiences.
Here are extracts from follow-up questions at the event.
Do you have a failure story? Where did you fail?
Before I started this particular project, I had something very wild in my mind. I decided to open a theater in Kathmandu. In my young days, there were very limited cinema halls in Kathmandu and the technology was very old.
Even the people in Kathmandu hadn’t seen movies when I was young. For the first time, about thirty years ago, I went to a very small narrow lane in Bansbari, at about midnight, to watch a video movie, and the technology was awful. So I opened a home theater type of video lab in Kathmandu.
I hired one guy as manager and I brought very new movies from India. We even imported from Karachi – that was the place where you could get pirated movies. Initially, the income was very good and I was happy.
But I got lenient on my supervision. Six months down the line, our bank balance was nil and I had lost about 30,000 Rupees in cash and about Rs 150,000 in kind. But that investment taught me some lessons. From that unsuccessful attempt, I realized how important it is for you to look into your own business, or to give at least the right amount of time and energy to evaluate, to supervise and also to get information.
So, if you want to go into business, you need to be business-minded. If you’re even a little bit off-track, the probability of you not succeeding is very high. For me, if you ask, failure is part of success; you can’t be successful every time.
As your sector is very technical, how did you manage to train your staffs in terms of research and technology?
We worked with one popular company from Bangladesh on the technical side. We asked them to transfer their technology.
This is how our people learnt the right type of know-how and skills. And we also learnt to assure quality in our products. You have to be proactive to bring in technology. We were nearly bankrupt when we bought the technology, but in long run, that’s the reason we’re a successful company.
What about exporting your product?
We’re preparing to compete in the world market. The four big markets in the world are the USA, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
First of all, you must develop the product that you want to export; then you have to develop capabilities – marketing ability, technological ability. There are many standards and procedures that you have to follow to export medicines, which need lots of technology.
We’re working with the best universities in the United States. This is how we’re trying to equip ourselves before going into the international market to compete. Except these four markets, we can’t go to other countries because we can’t compete with Indian and Chinese prices in these markets.
How did you raise funds to start your business?
We looked for people who were interested to invest with us, and seven of us decided to invest in the beginning. I and one of my colleagues invested two million Rupees in total. As it was insufficient, we approached some banks. After a few rejections, NIDC finally agreed to invest money in us as loans and we became the first company at that time to pay cent percent back to NIDC with interests.
What are your corporate social responsibilities?
In my case of corporate social responsibilities, I talked with many druggists and chemists to know about the major causes of deaths in rural areas and we decided to make products accordingly.
We’ve produced four such medicines at very reasonable costs. We sell these medicines at subsidized rates, at the cost of production, so that it’s as cost-effective as possible for the general Nepali public.
What are the competitions you are facing in Nepal?
Competition is everywhere, and I think competition is important for you to grow. In case of Nepal, by looking at our success, many companies are coming in. But we aren’t worried because we’re confident to find the ways and means to compete.
Fundamentally, in my business, our strength is that we know how to produce quality goods cost effectively.
There are two guru mantras for this: Firstly, you must trust your coworkers, your colleagues, with whom you work everyday. Give him/her your 100% trust.
Before you hire them, you can interview them ten times, take written exams, and have their parents to your office to discuss the types of career you can give them. But once you hire the person, you have to trust him or her. Secondly, you must improve your technology to stay competitive and survive.
If you are interested in attending an event like this, join Entrepreneurs for Nepal (EFN) on Facebook.