Senior Partner and
Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan, a US-based consulting firm organised a conclave entitled ‘Uncovering Nepal- Exploring Trends and Emerging Opportunities’ as a part of series of briefings on emerging markets recently in Kathmandu. Founded by Lore A Frost and Dan L Sullivan in 1961 in New York, the company is a prominent global consulting firm providing services in market research, analysis and growth strategy consulting having offices over 40 countries.
Manoj Menon, Senior partner and Managing Director, Asia pacific of Frost & Sullivan joined the company in 1996 and has consulted on multiple strategic and syndicated projects for leading MNCs, regulators and government bodies, providing growth workshops and client counsels, among others. The company conducted its first seminar in Nepal regarding the dynamics and opportunities in the key sectors of hydropower and tourism. Krishana Prasain of New Business Age, caught up with Menon for an interview during his visit to Nepal. In the interview Menon shared opportunities and drawbacks in the economic development and growth of Nepal along with the activities of Frost & Sullivan here. Excerpts:
Tell us about your visit and the conclave.
I am here for the growth, innovation and leadership (GIL) conclave. It is a briefing targeted at the global customers of Frost & Sullivan to educate them on innovation and growth opportunities available in Nepal. Frost & Sullivan started its operation in Nepal in November and we see lot of opportunities for global companies to come and play role in the economic development of Nepal.
Despite the potentials a particular country poses, investments do not come when people are unaware of the reality and only focus on the negative aspects caused by political instability. We wanted to end that and raise awareness among the investors about the opportunities that exist here. We look forward to showcase the companies that are doing well in Nepal into the international level. We have also met with various government agencies who are engaged in different development projects. For instance, there are works such as development of smart cities currently moving ahead. Similarly, agencies are also doing various activities to promote Nepal as a destination of investment. We have discussed and share our ideas about similar initiatives of countries with them while also listening that what they are looking for.
What is the idea behind organising the GIL conclave?
GIL is an event we organise in almost 22 cities around the world. We bring our customers from all sectors including healthcare, energy, automotive and telecom while also inviting the government as well. It is a platform for all stakeholders to come together to discuss about growth opportunities and new business ideas. It is an event where we discuss, collaborate and help to come up with new ideas for growth, innovation and leadership that is what GIL stands for.
What impediments do you identify for Nepal to achieve higher level of economic growth?
Political instability is a major concern for global investors. However, we need go beyond it. I think the sizeable young population is the biggest asset of Nepal. Nevertheless, enhancing the skills of Nepali youths is a major challenge to make them ready for local as well as global jobs. It is important for the government of Nepal to invest a lot more to enhance the skills of the youths which will be a spur to the overall economic development of the country. It is also necessary to encourage entrepreneurship.
Secondly, constructing new infrastructures and improving existing ones is also necessary. The existing international airport here, for example, lacks capacity wise and is not functioning well. To attract more tourists, Nepal needs better airports, roads and other related infrastructure. Similarly, the severe power shortage is also another impediment. Since the country does not have a stable energy situation, it is difficult for international companies to outsource jobs in Nepal. Overcoming these issues is key for the South Asian nation to have a sound economic scenario.
What are the potential areas Nepal can comparatively do well?
With the improvement in development of infrastructures and human capital, Nepal can achieve good economic growth. Tourism is a big sector for the country but is relatively small when compared globally. Singapore (the country I came for), for instance, welcomes 15 million tourists annually. The small Southeast Asian nation does not have natural diversity and scenic beauty like Nepal. Hydropower is another untapped potential. If the water resources are effectively utilized, not only the power crisis will end, Nepal can also be a source of green energy for the South Asia. Similarly, energizing youths with latest skills is also important to enhance the country’s human capital. At present, many semi and low-skilled Nepalis are working abroad as security and military personnel in other countries. It is primarily due to the high level of trust Nepalis have earned over the years which is key value for the country. Nonetheless, these kinds of jobs can go away in future with the development of technology, robotics and automation. Now there is a challenge to make the value relevant in the context of the new world. Our focus should be on how to provide physical security in the digital age. We also need to look if we can provide digital security which can be an area of major potent for the country.
What do you think the role Nepali private sector has to play in this regard?
Private sector has bigger role to play in a country like Nepal marred by political instability. It has to take the lead in driving the economy. Nepali private sector need to put more effort to attract global investors. With the foreign investments, they can grow their businesses faster in sectors like hydropower. They need to bring the investors here who can bring skills and knowledge. There have been many policy initiatives to attract foreign investments but political instability has always hold Nepal back to market the opportunities to the rest of the world. The private sector on the other hand has many businesses in Nepal which have been here from many generations. Many prominent business groups can play important role in bringing global investors and proving that they are not getting stuck due to the lack of political stability.
How is Frost & Sullivan partnering with the private sector and the government to help Nepal achieve sound economic growth?
Our value proposition is ‘Nepal for the world and the world for Nepal.’ We have conducted our first seminar here. We did small event with local companies, government and global investors which is our single biggest value proposition. We are helping bridge the gap between global and local opportunities for Nepal. With our value proposition we started the journey today. We have another event on November 9 where we will bring some global customers. We will promote Nepali companies in the international arena. Frost & Sullivan will organise an award programme in Nepal where we will honour the best companies across every sector. With our award in hand, Nepali companies can showcase their competence globally. It will also make them easier to attract global partnership, investments and support. Frost & Sullivan organise this type of award programme in many parts of the world.
What are the areas of focus for your company in Nepal?
As a consulting company, we will be advising the government and the private sector for improving their activities across multiple areas. We want to support the government here in formation of policy especially in new areas regarding the digital transformation. We can play important role to formulate policies and framework for human capital development. We have sufficient expertise to help the government to develop its master plan for smart cities and regions. We have also worked for the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. It has been quite successful garnering widespread support from the Indian private sector and general public alike. Attracting investments in the Nepali manufacturing sector is another area which we would like to contribute.
Meanwhile, we think that the Nepali private sector needs firm support in terms of expanding their businesses into the new territories and digital transformation. Hospitals, for example, need to change the way they do things. They will have to integrate their activities with the information and communication technology to deliver effective results. Frost & Sullivan can contribute by helping them develop new business models. So we are hoping to help the private sector companies from sectors such as healthcare, tourism, banking and finance. And more importantly, we also look forward to help Nepali companies go global so that they can have global business perspectives and partner with global investors.
And lastly, can you tell us about your research activities in Nepal?
Currently we are doing a lot of research here. Particularly, we have done some research on telecom industry and healthcare sector. We are a strong team of nine people and they are conducting research for the November 9 award event. The first couple of projects we have done went well as clients are happy. We are receiving business from existing and new clients.