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Tue, March 5, 2024

The rise of female led home-grown businesses

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Home-grown products have gained considerable significance in Nepal as the nation continues to explore opportunities for self-sufficiency and economic independence. In a market where imports have historically dominated, the promotion of local goods is not just a matter of pride but a strategic move to reduce dependency on foreign products and bolster the nation’s economy. Home-grown products encompass a wide range of items, from agricultural produce to handicrafts, textiles and manufactured goods, all produced within the country’s borders. The importance of these products lies in their ability to invigorate local industries, generate employment, and contribute to overall economic growth. One of the primary drivers behind the emphasis on home-grown products is the need to address the imbalance in Nepal’s Balance of Payments. The country’s substantial trade deficit is primarily attributed to the import-driven nature of its economy. 

By nurturing and promoting local industries, Nepal can reduce the outflow of foreign currency and strengthen its financial position. Additionally, home-grown products often hold unique cultural and environmental value. They are a reflection of the nation’s rich traditions and heritage, fostering a sense of identity and preserving cultural diversity. Moreover, the growth of these products translates to improved livelihoods for local communities, as it generates employment opportunities in both rural and urban areas. Consequently, the significance of home-grown products extends beyond economic considerations to encompass cultural preservation and community well-being, making them an integral part of Nepal’s journey towards self-reliance and sustainability.

In terms of government policy in Nepal, there have been notable developments aimed at promoting and prioritising home-grown products in Nepal. One such policy introduced is the awarding of bids to home-grown product-based companies, even if their costs exceed that of competing foreign products by up to 15%. This policy shift reflects a commitment to bolster domestic industries and reduce the dependency on imports. Further, the government is actively considering a new policy that would extend this threshold to 20%, signaling a more significant dedication to supporting local businesses. In addition to these cost-related policies, the government has also expressed a positive inclination towards the concept of establishing a dedicated website exclusively featuring domestic products. This digital platform would serve as a central hub for consumers to discover and purchase locally-produced goods. However, the government is currently grappling with the challenge of determining the ideal approach to implement this idea effectively. 

Home-grown products, though often more sustainable and supportive of domestic employment, can struggle to compete in a market that heavily favours imported goods. Addressing this issue requires a concerted effort to reduce import dependency and create a more balanced trade environment. Additionally, in Nepal, these businesses encounter several formidable challenges. Foremost among these is the pervasive lack of visibility, which often hinders their ability to compete with established imported brands due to limited marketing resources. Maintaining consistent quality and adhering to international standards also presents an ongoing challenge. The absence of effective distribution networks further compounds these issues, making it difficult for local products to reach a broader consumer base. Moreover, the perceived value of imported products frequently surpasses that of their domestic counterparts, creating a consumer preference for foreign goods, despite the economic benefits of supporting local industries. 

Within the landscape of home-grown brands in Nepal, there are notable success stories that offer valuable insights into achieving growth and sustainability. These thriving businesses owe their success to a combination of factors. Innovation stands out as a driving force while quality assurance plays a pivotal role. Successful brands invest in robust marketing and branding strategies to build a strong presence in the market and connect with their target audience effectively. These brands also engage with local communities and cultivate a loyal customer base which has been instrumental in their growth and resilience. 

Women play a strong role in leading the domestic goods business. In this edition of Business 360, we specifically spoke to four women entrepreneurs about the importance of home-grown products. Here is what they had to say:

Aayusha Shrestha
Founder, AAMO by Aayusha Shrestha