No encouragement for start-upsStrategies must be put in place to provide a conducive environment to allow the youths to thrive.
Until nearly two years ago, before the pandemic struck, working practices were reasonably traditional. People commuted to and from work, and remote working, although possible, was considered a novelty. And in the blink of an eye, many countries pushed for a complete lockdown, forcing businesses to shut their office spaces which precipitated a switch to remote working. The economic consequences of a prolonged lockdown in Nepal were catastrophic. With financial aid from the government reduced to lip service, many at the bottom of the economic strata had to rely on the kindness of good Samaritans for handouts.
The pandemic severely hit businesses, none more so than those in the service sector; with no signs of a relaxation of operating rules for businesses, many were forced into liquidation. If we are to stem the flow of outward migration of our youths, the authorities need to take serious steps to support youth entrepreneurship. But the reality has been chiefly somewhat discouraging for young people. The government's initiative to provide seed capital at subsidised interest rates to support start-ups was hailed as an encouraging step. And after a hiatus of almost six months, the promise to provide start-ups with a sum of Rs2.5 million each at 1 percent interest is still surrounded by uncertainty.
Why is it so difficult for the government to see through the proposals it makes? People prepare for a life based on the directives issued by the authorities. Instead of providing a conducive environment that would enable businesses to thrive, they're being made to face constant disappointment. As it is, Nepal has an abysmal track record when it comes to encouraging innovation even from the private sector; and coupled with slow bureaucratic processes, aspirants encounter nothing but frustration and constant disappointment. The mountain of paperwork and the needless movement from pillar to post give unfriendly messages.
Politics mired in instability is the root cause for such half-baked promises. While one set of authorities announces the plans, the next set ensures that such plans never see the light of day. All this is to make sure that the rivals' programmes are projected in a bad light. But the real victims are always the people. It shows the authorities' myopic stance in dealing with everyday issues faced by the public. And with general elections looming, on what grounds should they seek re-election other than the constant rhetoric they rely on?
If we are to see ourselves succeeding economically as a nation, there needs to be substantial investment in encouraging people to set up businesses. And it is only possible from the initiative taken by those at the highest levels of government. The provision of funds is only a start; there needs to be a well-documented set of procedures that needs to be followed through, providing much-needed support at various stages. We cannot expect to rely on the remittances received from exporting our youths anymore; strategies must be put in place to provide a conducive environment to allow the youths to thrive and build their businesses in Nepal.