My transformative 3 years at Nepal Communitere!

By Anil Parajuli

From “Shoot, I don’t know this, how can I do this to –  give me some time I will figure it out, look into it, and get back to you shortly!

I joined Nepal Communitere (NC) back in 2017, after I completed my MBA in Entrepreneurship from King’s College. I was searching for an organization to work in the entrepreneurship sector, especially one that works with early-stage startups. Nanda Kishor Mandal who was then at King’s College, referred me to Nepal Communitere’s posting for a Program Officer. I applied for the post, got selected and the rest is history! Hard to believe that now in 2020, I am branching out from Communitere while still continuing my passion to work in the arena of business incubation and early stage entrepreneurship. I am heading to one of the development organizations as a Startup and Innovation Support Expert to strengthen the startup ecosystem in Province 1. 

While at Nepal Communitere, I was involved in work I always wanted to do – from launching the first holistic I-Cube incubation program to supporting and working closely with entrepreneurs. Our I-Cube team always wanted to ensure that the program is at its  best. We reviewed the whole curriculum, designed workshops, planned coaching sessions, networking events, and whatnot to ensure entrepreneurs gained maximum benefit. As the Program Officer, I was responsible for planning and designing the I-Cube curriculum along with implementing the program for each cohort. 

I remember sharing my dream with the team back in the end of 2017 at our first team retreat, that our I-Cube program can go beyond Kathmandu. And it felt amazing when my dream came true with the launch of the first-ever business incubation program in Chitwan in partnership with Antarprerana, Chitwan Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Presidency College of Management Science. We incubated 7 companies in Chitwan who successfully graduated in 2019! We were also ready to launch a third incubation cohort in Butwal and built relationships with local stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce, associations, academic institutions, and early stage entrepreneurs. I felt motivated everyday seeing young people invest small seed funds  to support these incubated startups and entrepreneurs at Nepal Communitere. Most amazing I got to coach entrepreneurs and work with them to support, develop, and grow their business and become a part of their small puzzle in a big picture. And the best part is when entrepreneurs graduate from the program and they establish their own office space. I used to cry deep inside so happy to see them grow. 

The run-throughs of our master classes with Anita and Bahar will be most memorable.We rehearsed, revised and pivoted many f times before we presented to the entrepreneurs. It is because of these many run-through sessions, I learned to empathize with the entrepreneurs and craft sessions accordingly. Moreover, this became our guiding factor to bring tangible outcomes. I vividly remember my former colleague, Anita Rijal’s saying “Preparation is the key buddy!”

I-Cube was everywhere with us and in our personality. We used to discuss the updates and progress from serving breakfast to lunch, kulfis and samosa times. Many not-to-be-missed moments, conducting one on one check-ins with the entrepreneurs at the trampoline, cargo Cafe to Cafe Soma to Newari Khaja Ghar to Pulchowk’s overhead bridge’s side tea stall including getting midnight calls from entrepreneurs, playing futsal, going on a hike, everything.

Demo Day events with our small team and limited resources, we always outshined and made them larger than life events. I remember how we prepared for them months ahead, working on every detail- from registration to pitches and curating everything. With the first Demo Day in 2018, we together pioneered the first seed investment program in Nepal ‘Safal Seed’ in partnership with Safal Partners for angel investors in Nepal. Oh, and how can I forget the Kathmandu Mini Maker Faire in 2018! Maaan… I have learned so much during these years.

I’ve escalated to the peak during these three years at Communitere both professionally and personally and I feel I received more opportunities than I asked for. I received golden chances to participate in and represent Nepal Communitere in different events conducted by diverse ecosystem players. I even got a chance to design a masterclass session with super human beings Nicola Weir and Natasha Furness which was the best. Learning with these two amazing women was like learning from Deloitte itself. Frontier Incubators virtual program is another milestone for Communitere and me personally. I’ve been raised from a young kid to a man at Communitere!

Being part of the Nepal Communitere family has been one of the best things that has happened to me after Narayani (my wife). To be honest, it was never work or a job for me at Communitere, it was something that I loved doing. Talking to entrepreneurs, helping them to fix their businesses, connecting them to mentors, experts, promoting their products/ services, and linking them to investors. I would say this team has touched my life. Anita had been a great support for me at Communitere, my safe landing. Padmakshi being my favorite and my partner in crime, she is more like Dijju than my manager. First of all, the drum rolls here for the main person- Bahar. The biggest compliment from one of our partners was “You sound and act like Bahar”.  

This is not a goodbye to Communitere but it’s more like a ‘See You Guys Soon’ kind of feeling! I will miss and remember everyone: Shanti Didi’s amazing food, Dilip Dai’s Coffee, Ganesh Dai’s morning wisdom, Kusum Ji’s “Anil Ji tapai ko payment ready bho”,  Pallab’s cool and new designs, Cargo Team’s fancy dishes and drinks, Rachana’s sweetness, Aarati’s ‘lets do it guys’ push, Anita’s swag, Padmakshi’s everything and Bahar’s ‘Oh I love it’ attitude for everything. Most of all, entrepreneurs’ “Dai free hunu hunchha? euta kaam thiyo…”

Whatever we did and will do, the Nepal Communitere team just NAILS IT every time. The amazing work that NC has been doing to support entrepreneurs, incubate them and make them investment ready, is a huge contribution to the ecosystem at large. The core thing here is all about learning and growth. If you want to excel in life and learn, unlearn and relearn, Nepal Communitere has to be a part of your journey!