The Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme Phase II (NAMDP/Sahaj) in collaboration with Idea Studio Nepal announced applications open for the ‘Sahaj Challenge Fund’. The announcement was made during a virtual Press Meet on January 18, 2022.
The first round of the challenge fund will be used to solicit innovative ideas to address some of the most challenging problems and obstacles identified in logistics services and the supply chain of agriculture in Province 1.
Sahaj Challenge Fund intends to contribute to increasing employment and value-add in the agricultural sectors (maize, dairy, vegetables, and cardamom) of Province 1. The fund will primarily issue grants to co-finance costs involved in developing and piloting new business models and solutions, reducing the commercial risk hurdle.
The total budget for round 1 of the Sahaj Challenge Fund is expected to be approx. NPR 19.5 million (NPR. 1crore 95 lacs). Support provided will be NPR. 500,000 (NPR. 5 lacs) up to NPR 50,00,000 (NPR 50 lacs), although exceptions are possible if approved by the SCF. Awards and accompanying support for innovations are expected to last for one year.
The virtual press meet saw the attendance of business associations, government ministries, academicians, media personnel, and entrepreneurs.
The event officially kicked off with a note by Ms. Reema Shrestha, Deputy Team Leader of NAMDP-Phase II who gave an introduction to the project. She added “NAMDP, also known as Sahaj, operates under a bilateral agreement between Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland. Sahaj is a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project. This is the second phase of the project starting from December 2020 and ending in November 2024. Sahaj provides financial and technical support towards improved access to services and innovation for agri-businesses in Province 1. This will increase demand for smallholders’ produce, including them in value-added supply chains, and build resilience in rural communities through higher employment and income. She added, “The project has three pillars: agriculture services, non-agriculture services, and business enabling environment to meet the project targets. NAMDP has four focus areas: Vegetables, Dairy, Cardamom, and Maize.”
Following that, Mr. Brajesh Malla, Access to Finance Expert, NAMDP-Phase II introduced the Sahaj Challenge Fund, “The objectives of the Sahaj Challenge Fund (SCF) align fully with the overall program objectives of NAMDP Phase II. As such, the fund intends to contribute to increasing employment and value-add in the agricultural sectors (maize, dairy, cardamom, and vegetable) of Province 1 in Nepal.” He further added, “We have envisioned multiple rounds of the challenge fund. Round 1 of SCF will be used to solicit innovative ideas to address some of the most challenging problems and obstacles identified in the case of logistics services and supply chain of agriculture in Province 1.”
He further commented, “Importantly, the fund will aim to address those challenges where disruptive, ‘break-from-the-past’ type innovations are considered key to move the needle in logistics services which can solve persistent bottlenecks in the private sector functioning in Province 1 and thereby contribute to a higher level of commercialization and economic value-add in the selected agri-sectors.”
Following that, Prof Dr. Biju Thapaliya, Dean, Purbanchal University School of Management, added “There are immense opportunities in Province 1 agriculture and allied agricultural sectors. Province 1 has been producing good quality and quantity of goods, however, both the quality and quantity of the products get distorted while transporting it to the market. The loss of quality goods affects the national economy but a massive impact is also borne by the farmers or the people involved in the supply chain. And with the launch of the Sahaj Challenge Fund, we look forward to the businesses that can work on solving these issues. Supply chain and logistics have a major role in bringing products from farmers to the market, and with this fund, we look forward to adding value in both the agriculture and allied agricultural sectors. Purbanchal University School of Management will support as much as possible to disseminate the information and request everyone to do the same.”
Following that, Mr. Naveen Rijal, the president-elect of Morang Merchant Association also highlighted the importance of a program like the Sahaj Challenge Fund to address the current challenges in agriculture in Province 1. He also emphasized the need for a policy-level intervention in agri-logistics in Nepal.
Following that Dr. Tshering Lama, Executive Chairperson, Idea Studio Nepal welcomed everyone and thanked everyone present in the virtual press meet for joining in such difficult situations. Dr. Lama shared the objective of starting the Sahaj challenge fund in Province 1 and delivered a vote of thanks. He requested everyone present to support this project, one can provide support by nominating or suggesting anyone they know who works/ is working in this field, so we can reach out to them.
To mark the end of the event, Dr. Ram Nandan Tiwari, Province Secretary, Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture & Cooperative (MOLMAC) thanked Sahaj Challenge Fund for bringing such an initiative to Province 1 and encouraged all the participants to share this opportunity with the potential applicants and businesses.
The program also showcased a promotional video, audio jingle, and website (www.sahajcf.com) for Sahaj Challenge Fund.
About Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme Phase II (NAMDP/Sahaj)
The Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme (NAMDP) Phase II, also known as Sahaj, operates under a bilateral agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland. Sahaj is a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project, implemented by a consortium of Swisscontact (as the lead agency) and the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED). Sahaj provides financial and technical support towards improved access to services and innovation for agri-businesses in Province 1. This will increase demand for smallholders’ produce, including them in value-added supply chains, and build resilience in rural communities through higher employment and income.
About Idea Studio Nepal
Idea Studio Nepal is a platform to turn promising ideas into business and ultimately ignite social change by enabling potentials in favor of entrepreneurship through social innovation. Idea Studio Nepal provides a platform for individuals who seek mentorship, training, counseling for startups, link up, and scale-up. Idea Studio Nepal aims to create an entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nepal. The mission is to create innovative startup ventures to generate new jobs in the economy and address major social challenges. Idea Studio Nepal seeks to enable the youths of the nation through entrepreneurship and innovation to ignite a socio-economic change.
- Visit: https://www.sahajcf.com/
- Submission deadline: February 18, 2022
- Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact Number: 01 5528508 / 5548830 / 9741695512 / 9801801265
You can also fill out the application offline at the premises of the Idea Studio Nepal, Kathmandu, and Purbanchal University School of Management, Biratnagar.