SAARC CCI’s Startup Boot camp “Strengthening Startup Ecosystems in South Asia: Cross-Border Boot Camps for Innovative Entrepreneurs Bhutan and Nepal”

SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) organized first startups Boot Camp on April, 20-22, 2019 at Hotel Yak and Yeti Kathmandu, Nepal in collaboration with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

Startups are regarded as the driving force behind structural changes and sustainable economic growth and prosperity, especially in their contribution to job creation for the next generation of young labour force.  

A total of 24 startups, 7 from Bhutan and 17 from Nepal participated and gathered on a common platform to network, share knowledge and best practices, and to enhance the cross-border collaboration among the South Asian nations. Some of the ideas of the startups included; innovation in shoe industry- infusing local culture in designs, e-commerce platform using Uber-like business models to provide services to its clients, using drones to rebuild heritage sites, food innovation in ice creams - using natural fruits and local flavors, education platform to connect urban and rural communities, paper products produced from elephant dungs, manufacturing soaps using medicinal herbs, and many more.

The objective of the three-day boot camp was to provide a common forum to the representatives of various startups from different industries to air their views and concerns as well as to network and connect with fellow startups and business leaders of other countries in the region. Apart from that, the boot camp also allowed participants to familiarize themselves with the various aspects of cross border mentorship, marketing, finances, innovation and growth.

The three day boot camp was facilitated by three leading startup mentors from India. Mr. Vijetha Shastry, Lead, Open Innovation at NASSCOM Centre of Excellence; Mr. Pankaj Agarwal, CEO,  HelloTravel, and, Mr. Saravana Mani, Head - Open Innovation at Future Groups. The mentors were well experienced in advising various startups in domains such as Retail, Hospitality, Consumer Products, Consulting, Travel, Finance, E-commerce, and many more.

Mr. Imran Ali, Director - Research & Development, SAARC CCI, opened the boot camp with an overview of SAARC and emphasized the need for all participating nations to encourage collaboration and cooperation to promote entrepreneurship, and the need for everyone to help develop startup ecosystems across the region.

Mentors coached the startups on how they can make their content more compelling. The participants were advised to present in a storytelling format for maximum impact. They had an opportunity to hear stories from various successful entrepreneurs on their journey so far.

Mr. Vijetha Shastry, Lead - Open Innovation at NASSCOMCoEIoT Center of Excellence mentoring
startups from Bhutan and Nepal during the Bootcamp in Kathmandu, Nepal

Mr. Sarvana Mani mentoring the startups from Bhutan and Nepal during
SAARC CCI three-day boot camp in Kathmandu, Nepal

The boot camp was thorough, exciting, consuming and full of action. All the participants learned about the difference in startup ecosystems across SAARC nations, shared and learned the pains and joys of being an entrepreneur and went back with a determination to scale up their startups and eventually pay it forward.

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