Finnish-Nepalese Alumni Network creates contacts for business
There are as many as 3 000 Nepali living in Finland, and a growing number of people educated in Finland who have returned to Nepal. How can we make the best use of the expertise of the Nepali who have studied in Finland in trade relations between the countries?
In summer 2016 the Desk Officers for Nepal at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs together with the Non-Resident Nepali Association NRNA discussed the ways to make the best use of the potential offered by the Nepalese people who had studied in Finland in trade relations between the countries.
They decided to set up an Alumni Network to bring together various stakeholders in Finland and Nepal by providing information on the markets and societies of the two countries.
The name of the network is Haate-Maalo, the Nepalese words for collaboration and joint action. The NRNA took the lead and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs assumed a supporting role, which includes the organisation of various kinds of events.
The activity got off to a good start. A few weeks later more than 50 members had joined the network and during the first year several business events were organised, both in Finland and in the capital of Nepal Kathmandu.
Strong expertise in export sectors
The network established a local branch in Kathmandu, which has convened on a regular basis. Most of the members of the Haate-Maalo network are various types of engineers - information technology, environment, energy, forestry - who have received their education in Finland.
This means that the members’ expertise is well in line with the strong export sectors for Finland.
At an event at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in mid-June people working and the Ministry and representatives of Finpro and Finnpartnership were told about the activities of the Alumni Network. Those present agreed that the network has great potential in developing trade relations between Finland and Nepal.
As a market area Nepal may pose difficulties for Finnish companies. The chair of the network Basanta Gautam pointed out that the alumni are needed to build bridges between Finnish companies and local stakeholders.
In the discussions it was noted that the network should focus on marketing in order that the companies interested in Nepal will find the network and what it has to offer. Ambassador Sinikka Antila noted that the events and marketing should be customised according to the needs of companies that are interested in Nepal.
According to representatives from Finnpartnership and Finpro, there is a growing interest in markets such as those in Nepal. Finnpartnership and Finpro can support the network in marketing and reaching the right companies.
Nepal’s economy is growing fast
For Finland - or any other western country - Nepal is not a well-known or obvious market area for exports. However, the country is making serious and systematic efforts to develop is economy and, as a result, the World Bank forecasts GDP growth of 7.5 per cent for Nepal. This is the third most rapid in the world.
Nepal offers significant opportunities in sectors such as education, cleantech, energy and building.
Local networks and experts are indispensable when operating in Nepal. Through the Haate-Maalo Network Finnish companies will find people who know the local conditions, while having been educated in Finland.
The writer is the Desk Officer for Nepal at the Department for Americas and Asia.