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Biruwa has evolved a lot since opening its door to entrepreneurs in August 2011. Though we have not fulfilled all our goals we had set out when we started more than five years ago, we are proud of the progress we have made. Biruwa is now a go to place for young entrepreneurs seeking guidance regarding their business ideas. Startup entrepreneurs come to Biruwa to get feedback for their products or services. Investors seek Biruwa’s help while scouting for investment opportunities. We have become a key player in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal and contribute in any way possible to build a stronger entrepreneurial community in the country.
We feel time has now come for reflection of what we have done well and learn from our failures. Below is what we consider some of our key accomplishments:
- Provided mentoring to over 300 entrepreneurs – Biruwa has been consistently providing free mentoring sessions to aspiring and early stage entrepreneurs since our inception in 2011. Entrepreneurs come to Biruwa with myriads of questions and challenges. We help them structure their thoughts and provide suggestions on how to move forward. In some cases, we even discourage entrepreneurs from moving forward when we see that the entrepreneur is not prepared or if the business does not seem financially feasible.
- Way forward – Biruwa will continue to provide its free mentoring sessions, in a more structured manner, and will actively promote the culture of mentoring among entrepreneurs in Nepal.
- Established a culture of sharing office space – Starting with just seven workspaces in 2011, we scaled up our operations to over 100 workspaces by the end of 2014. Unfortunately, we suffered a major setback in the 2015 earthquake when we lost both of our office buildings. There are now several office space service providers and startups are now keen on sharing their space to increase collaboration and reduce costs.
- Way forward – After serious contemplation, which I have outlined in a blog here, we decided not to reinvest and discontinued our serviced office space business. We are now focusing on a new business model for coworking through Ventures Café.
Biruwa’s first three team members with solar panel from Gham Power in its office in March 2013.
Provided consulting services to over 40 businesses – When we started rolling out our consulting services in 2013, there was not really a market for a consulting service provider focused on startups and SMEs in Nepal. In the last three years, we have provided consulting services to a range of industries that includes – an ecommerce startup; a handicraft manufacturer; an agro-enterprise manufacturing feed for multiple agro-businesses; a cleaning service provider, an European company importing handmade products from Nepal; and an Australian consulting firm studying the investment climate of the country.
- Way forward – Learning from our consulting work, we are now introducing six new consulting products that will help us further gain a foothold in the market.
- Facilitated eight investment deals – Since actively beginning to seek investments in early 2013, Biruwa’s Partners have personally invested in 6 startups and facilitated two deals with outside investors. The deals we have done so far have taught us valuable lessons on how to find investment opportunities, how to structure a deal so that the entrepreneurs maintain control over the business and how can investors add value to a growing startup.
- Way forward – Learning from our own investment experience, we are now introducing a structured Investment Facilitation service for both entrepreneurs and investors to help promote more investment deals in the Nepali market.
The support ecosystem for entrepreneurs has evolved dramatically in the last five years since Biruwa’s inception. There are a number of startup business incubators and accelerators now operating in the market. Business schools are now actively providing trainings to aspiring entrepreneurs. Even the government and donor agencies are now looking to support the ecosystem through meaningful programs and policy changes.
Given the changes in the market, we felt the need to focus our resources and expertise to these changing needs based on our reflections. Starting in 2016, Biruwa began the process of rebranding itself from Biruwa Ventures to Biruwa Advisors – shifting our focus to the consulting business. We are also redrawing our mission to better reflect our focus on providing business consulting services to “use our entrepreneurial experiences, market knowledge and network to provide innovative business support and consulting services to help entrepreneurs and managers make informed business decisions.”