Beyond just profitabilityRecognising the failure of the state to retain youth and hoping to inspire a paradigm shift, Idea Studio Nepal is helping convert bright ideas into viable businesses that serve not just the investors but the society at large
The trend in the last couple of decades or so has been such that Nepali youth are eager to pursue higher education overseas and to employ their skills there upon finishing their studies, often for decades until ultimately choosing to settle down in said country. Although foreign currency trickles back into the country in the form of remittance, a colossal amount of skill is lost to foreign economies as Nepalis living abroad contribute their expertise to said economies, increasing efficiency and accelerating growth, instead of returning to their home country to apply what they have learnt in a local context. This halts local development and stagnates economic growth, the ramification of which is the brain drain that cripples our country today.
Many factors constitute the increasingly pervasive predicament of brain drain, of which higher wages and benefits are but two constituents. On a macro scale, the political instability that plagues our nation, lack of job creation and the consequential unemployment, lack of business and consumer confidence, and a stagnant economy facilitated by unforeseeable political tension, from both within the country and outside such as the 2015 Nepal blockade, results in a bleak economic scenario in which there is little faith, making seeking employment abroad an easy and attractive alternative for Nepali youth eager to enter the professional world and find jobs suited to their expertise. Recognising the failure of the state to retain said youth and hoping to inspire a paradigm shift in the perspective of the youth of the employment scene in Nepal, Idea Studio Nepal was established in 2014 as a joint initiative of Childreach Nepal, Unicef Nepal, Kathmandu University School of Management (Kusom) and Meeting Point.
Today, Idea Studio Nepal is a non-profit company that provides encouragement and opportunities to those who aspire to transform new ideas into socially conscious enterprises. A collaboration between the development sector, academia, private sector and the media, Idea Studio Nepal values innovation, knowledge creation, social transformation, social justice and human dignity, and fosters promising youth as able social entrepreneurs. Investment lies at the core of Idea Studio Nepal, which matches resources to proposition and provides thorough mentorship to Ideators. Dr Tshering Lama, Country Director of Childreach Nepal and Chairperson of Idea Studio Nepal, shared at the Idea Studio Nepal Press Meet 2016 on May 16, “Idea Studio Nepal is a platform to develop and celebrate a complete ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in the country which ultimately restores human dignity on the basis of knowledge creation and innovative approaches.”
Ideas in any stage of the innovation process are welcome from all over the country irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, literacy level and income. After an initial shortlisting process of over 500 applications, the 30 best ideas are selected for mentorship at Kusom’s Incubation Center where business leaders, Kusom professors and students work with selected Ideators to assess their needs and assist them with academic research, fieldwork, finding resources, developing proposals, measuring financial and social impact, and obtaining investment and seed funding. Ideators are also given the opportunity to present their ideas on national television to gain public support and to approach leading business tycoons. Ideas chosen for investment by business leaders and financial institutions via the television show will then be further developed and implemented as tangible projects, elevated from simply ideas on paper and capable of impacting audiences and stakeholders across the nation.
Rupesh Krishna Shrestha, Assistant Professor at Kusom, shared, “We are often stumped as to how we can create social economic transformation via the creation of new industries and new jobs. This is where Idea Studio Nepal comes in by creating a platform that combines academia, where research is done in incubation centers and ideas are birthed. In addition, they have the private sector, where ample experiential learning is offered, the media sector, which provides voice to the enthusiasm of the youth to a large audience, and the development and social sector, where social innovation is of fundamental consequence. The entrepreneurs we support and promote are not in search for just profit but have promise, vision, and lend a hand in social transformation. At a time when we suffer from lack of faith, we hope for innovators and visionaries to find both encouragement and tutelage to transform their ideas into real-life projects at Idea Studio Nepal.”
Anil Shah, CEO of Mega Bank, affirmed at the Press Meet what separates Ideators from the rest is their courage, resolve and risk-taking attitude to pursue their vision and work towards materialising it and, in doing so, create jobs for hundreds others instead of passively dropping their resume at a number of establishments in the hopes of finding a secure job. He shared, “I feel privileged to be part of Idea Studio Nepal and have the utmost respect for everybody involved, especially the Ideators and the promise they hold. No matter what your idea is, if you believe it will make a difference not only to yourself and your family, but also to your society and your country, then fill out the form. This is an amazing opportunity.” Ujjwal Krishna Shrestha, Chief Executive of Panchakanya Group, further shared, “Idea Studio has changed the lens through which Nepali entrepreneurship is seen to something that is innovative and exemplary.” Lama provided further insight, “Success is barely a stroke of luck; it is discipline, an investment and a journey that requires an acute sense of self-actualisation, determination and vision.”