The COVID-19 outbreak has indeed taken its flight and has landed us into uncertain territories. We have been witnessing just how the global markets have been fluctuating as a result, but what about our very own startups in Nepal? Are they holding up alright? What have they been doing to counter the situation? Let’s have a sneak peek into the workings of some of these fresh companies and try to know the contemporary state of affairs of our domestic market.
1. Team Vermiponics:
Team Vermiponics works with Hydroponics and Vermicomposting to develop new agriculture mechanisms to solve the problem of insufficient supply of organic vegetables and land scarcity. Also, they promote pot culture where one can order pots with their designs and customization. While inquiring about their status, the cofounder expressed that none of their products has been selling since the lockdown:
“ Even the ordered goods are lying right here with us and we haven’t been able to deliver them for the last 2 months.” Team Vermiponics expresses with sadness. While the sales have completely been shut down, the team has been initiating other activities through their social media including Photo Contests of ‘Bhansa Ko Fohor kata jancha?’, conducting online webinars on Solid Waste Management and Vermicomposting to keep their audience engaged and help them utilize the knowledge during the lockdown.
“The market has been barely holding up, but other virtual and online promotional works still have been going on. We are not going to stay idle and depressed just because our market has slumped, ” the co-founder of Vermiponics adds with a positive note.
Sochware, is a tech company with a vision to educate, train, and develop technology suitable and accessible to the world through Nepal. They have been actively involved in promoting technology, with the key working area in Soft-solution development, hardware research, and development, training with IoT. They already stand as an established software company, yet their business has been also affected by the pandemic:
“The lengthy duration of the lockdown has changed the way of working and has affected the capabilities of members in the team, but everyone has been coping with the situation in their own ways.” Their sales have decreased and are not being able to conduct various training programs under their category. “We had accumulated limited funds from our clients and are currently sustaining on that, but now we are shifting to a more difficult time because payments are due from clients and it’s impossible to conduct the transactions online.” says the cofounder. Even though their business is stagnant, they have collaborated and are currently working on the dissemination of Health-related content through their new page ‘Suswastha’ to raise awareness regarding health during this pandemic.
3. Crafty Lisha:
Crafty Lisha is an individual home-based company that has been selling customized crochet, hand-knitted products as well as other craft products on a small scale. It had just started online when the lockdown happened. “The pre-pandemic status of start-up was satisfactory and doing average business, ” the founder, Alisha Adhikari says. “However, after the lockdown, the distribution of goods has been delayed and it is also difficult to buy raw materials for the preparation of the goods because of the market shut down.”
The young entrepreneur makes the products herself, focused around small gifts and accessories for her customers. “I had few customers before the pandemic, but I could not even deliver their order due to the lockdown. Especially the products that were meant to be birthday gifts” She laments. However, she has utilized this time to make more crafts and promote her products online. She is optimistic that her business will recover once the situation goes back to normal. She shares, “This global pandemic has impacted many industries and will impact us in the long run. I think it will be highly digitized after it’s all over and that our industry will migrate online.”
4. Deego Nepal:
Deego Nepal is a sustainable-lifestyle brand with products like Bamboo toothbrushes, upcycled paper pens, tote bags, accessory pouches, upcycled scrunchies, upcycled earrings, etc. The cofounder shares, “The pandemic has undoubtedly affected our business in some ways. We are getting orders online but we’re not being able to deliver them. As per our plan, we were in the production phase and quality assurance of existing products, but now we lack resources to make new products. Also, we are unable to make our presence physically, network with other brands, and see how the market is going.”
Having said that, Deego has also been investing time to reflect and research. They have been utilizing the time on online marketing, keeping updated, connecting with their people, selling products by taking orders through social media i.e. Facebook and Instagram. In addition to promoting their business, they have successfully been spreading awareness on sustainable living virtually by conducting ‘Ditch Plastic Challenge’, collaborating with sustainable menstrual product brands to spread awareness to help people to get access and the right to choose. They also shared that the situation after the pandemic is unpredictable, but the use of technology and online-based business will flourish. Small businesses will eventually recover; It just requires patience.
Dhwo: Design, is an online company that has been designing, producing, and selling dog accessories and toys online through social media. For a start-up business like Dhwo:, with new creative innovations, it is hard to be financially secure and must depend on orders and purchase from their customers. During this pandemic, people’s priorities are on basic necessities rather than on goods that are considered secondary. “We did get a few orders, but we have promised our customers that the products will be delivered soon after the situation gets normal”, the co-founder says. On a positive note, she shares, “We have been able to get quite a few followers in our social media pages which have helped to spread our business a little further.”
The new sticker ‘Support Small Business’ started by Instagram to help the entrepreneurs to promote their business has undeniably helped the company to gather more audience. An entrepreneur is not always about earning money. Sometimes it can also expand to a range of volunteerism. During the lockdown, Dhwo: had been able to join a group and a cause “Pause to Feed, the Paws in Need”, an initiation by Rotaract Club of Yala in collaboration with Hands for Feeding, Dhwo Design, and Columbus Chocolate. They had helped with collecting the funds for feeding the animals in various places of Kathmandu and Lalitpur, through digital payment systems like E-sewa. Even amidst the pandemic, their small effort of kindness to the voiceless animals has been able to get them new followers.
“For all small business start-ups like us, it’s an opportunity to explore online strategies and get ready for new journeys towards an uncertain reality”, the cofounder shares optimistically.
Overall, the startups have been barely coping during this pandemic, with orders that they have not been able to deliver. However they have been utilising this time to research and learn new crafts and expand their reach online through social media. The significance of online marketing has become much more pronounced than ever, however on a personal level, optimism and passion for their work is what has kept their dreams alive.