Launch of ICIMOD’s Tourovation Hub at Nepal Communitere

By Padmakshi Rana

We are thrilled to announce our new and exciting partnership with ICIMOD and SELCO Foundation this year! With grant support from ICIMOD, Nepal Communitere will be hosting the Tourovation Hub. It is an 18-months project titled Building Innovation for Nepal’s Tourism Sector. We will be working jointly with ICIMOD and SELCO Foundation to support Nepali tourism entrepreneurs to harness innovative opportunities through ideation, incubation and acceleration of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficient (EE) solutions and approaches. 

The RE and RE Capability for the Hindu Kush Himalaya (REEECH) initiative of ICIMOD aims to contribute to low carbon and climate resilient mountain enterprise development across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. We are delighted to work with Nepal Communitere, a female-led Nepali not for profit organization to harness the entrepreneurial opportunities in Nepal, through establishment of Tourovation Hub.

Anu K. Lama, Tourism specialist at ICIMOD

Tourism is one of Nepal’s largest industries, which generated “NPR 240 billion and supported 1 million jobs last year”. However, some of the current challenges for the sector include sustainable innovation, natural resource limitations, climate shocks (extreme weather, natural disasters), environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure for energy access, drinking water supply, road and air transport and publicity amongst others. More recently, the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic comes with dire consequences for Nepal’s tourism sector. Tourism entrepreneurs and stakeholders estimate that the sector could lose “NPR 40 billion to the crisis, and anticipate job losses for 1.1 million workers”.

There is an urgency for Nepali tourism enterprises, particularly micro, small, medium enterprises (MSMEs), to explore innovative solutions and business opportunities in the short and long term that address the above challenges. So that they are able to deliver resilience by designing and developing sustainable value propositions and business models with the ability to absorb, adapt and transform. In particular, renewable energy (RE) and energy efficient (EE) innovations that include multi-stakeholder views with business support services, is integral for such business model innovation. As such, with the aim to help Nepali tourism enterprises transform to resilient and sustainable enterprises, the Tourovation Hub aims to promote the adoption of RE and EE solutions and approaches in tourism enterprises.


“With our pilot program in Nepal on energy access and entrepreneurship ecosystem building, SELCO always wanted to work with partners who would not only bring in great depth in local knowledge and understanding of the specificity of Nepal but also provide invaluable insights into the overall programmatic components. Nepal Communitere has provided that with a great touch of enthusiasm and positive energy. SELCO Foundation’s Global Hubs program seeks to develop a long-term association with Nepal Communitere that has begun with this exciting convergence with ICIMOD”

Shripathi Hadigal, Program Manager, Global Replication, SELCO Foundation.

We will be adapting our flagship I-Cube business program for the incubates at the Hub, based on the input and engagement from local ecosystem partners to ensure the sustainability of the Hub. As demonstrated through our programs in Kathmandu and Chitwan, this process results in high levels of ownership and engagement from local players and is anticipated to sustain the entrepreneurial ecosystem created through this program. The HUB will be applying the same approach and engaging stakeholders, such as government, academia, associations, banks and financial institutions, investors and policy enablers in the tourism and RE sectors. 

Our recently completed inception report explores the business models, challenges and opportunities within the tourism sector for enterprises to adopt innovative RE and EE solutions and approaches into their existing businesses. The insights from the interviews excite us about the need for our upcoming activities, but with slight apprehension given the current situation. Nonetheless, we are really looking forward to the journey ahead with our amazing partners!

We are, now, in the process of a) launching the Tourovation Hub webpage to keep you updated on the activities, b) establishing a steering committee to advise and support the project and incubates and c) opening application to enroll tourism enterprises for the design sprints and incubation program, in the month of September 2020.

Newly set ‘Tourovation Hub’ at Nepal Communitere

Two, three-day, Design Sprints will be conducted in October to select 10 tourism enterprises to participate in the seven months long incubation program, from November 2020. Out of the 10, five enterprises will move into the post investment phase.  The incubation program has Innovation Seed Funds of upto NPR 2 Lakhs for each of the selected enterprises to prototype, test, iterate and adopt RE and EE solutions and approaches identified during the Design Sprints. 

Our team will take the lead to assist the tourism enterprises to design and develop sustainable business models that deliver resilience. We will open the ‘call for applications’ for the incubation program in the second week of September. Please keep a lookout for the applications!

Contact Padmakshi Rana if you want to know more about Tourovation Hub program or interested to apply!