World Bank launches new agri center in Nepal

Nepal’s agro-entrepreneurs will have a whole suite of services available to them as they look to grow and improve their businesses, in the form of a new innovation center, launched by the World Bank.

The World Bank Group has launched the Nepal Agribusiness Innovation Center with the aim of helping local agribusinesses grow and increase their competitiveness.

The center was established by the World Bank Group and InfoDev, a multi-donor program in the World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice that supports entrepreneurs in developing economies. It also has the support of the governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

A World Bank spokesperson told Agri Investor the support will include training, coaching and access to technology, market information, financial management and networking.

The center will support over 150 small and medium-sized enterprises over the next 18 months, according to the organization, which noted in a statement that SMEs employ 1.75 million people and account for 22 percent of Nepal’s GDP.

“Nepalese producers and agro-entrepreneurs are well-positioned to reach local and regional markets, but they need resources to expand,” said Takuya Kamata, World Bank’s Country Manager for Nepal.

Last week, the World Bank’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation and the Nepal Entrepreneurs’ Hub, organized a boot camp to identify the first group of companies that will work with the center. Of the 650 applications received, the 20 top-performing businesses were selected to join the center.

In the feasibility assessment InfoDev published in 2013, the following agricultural products were identified as having good growth potential: coffee, fish, floriculture, ginger, honey, cardamom, meat, dairy, non-timber forest products and essential oils, potatoes and tea.

While the primary recipients of the center’s services will be those operating in the middle of the value chain, agro-processors, its social impact is expected to be across the agribusiness sector, including farmers, ancillary, and supportive services, InfoDev concluded in its feasibility study.