The US-based consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has successfully completed its first year in Nepal. The firm founded by Lore A Frost and Dan L Sullivan in 1961 in New York provides services including market research, analysis, growth strategy consulting and corporate training in 40 countries. Nitin Kalothia, Director of Frost & Sullivan was recently in Nepal for a business visit. New Business Age caught up with Kalothia to talk about the progress the firm made in its first year of operation, its roles in strengthening the performances of businesses and future plans, among others. Excerpts:
How was the first year of Frost & Sullivan in Nepal? What achievements would you like to highlight for the firm in this period?
The one year journey has been exciting. A lot of companies are curious about the work that we have been doing and I think that it is positive because people have shown interest in our company’s purpose.
Working with a few companies in Nepal, we have been able to demonstrate opportunities for improvement, both in financial and tangible and non-tangible benefits. We are also working with the clients in terms of their strategic growth plan. I would say, willingness of a 40-year old company in Nepal to work with Frost & Sullivan which is just a one-year old firm here in terms of long-term strategy partnership speaks a lot about the confidence that our clients have in us.
The value proposition of Frost and Sullivan for Nepal is ‘Nepal for the world and the world for Nepal.’ What role are you playing in this regard?
There are two parts to explain in our value proposition of ‘Nepal for the world and the world for Nepal’. Firstly, it means to manufacture and provide services globally from Nepal and secondly, to make Nepal as a global destination for business. We are trying to play a role in terms of making Nepali companies competitive in the global arena. “Nepal for the world”, means that Nepal is going to be a competitive place for global companies. We are working with the companies here in Nepal to understand their consistency factors, the existing global differences and ways to help them adopt global factors in the current business scenario. The goal is to turn the companies to be globally competitive. We are also starting Nepal Business Excellence Award platform, which I would say is an audit-based award programme where we will be evaluating the companies' maturity on a global business excellence framework. We will identify opportunities for improvement, set a feedback, finding, areas for improvement and in the process we will also identify companies that are doing well and recognize them on a national platform so that they are motivated to move forward. This is how we are working on a certain angle of the whole story in terms of making companies in Nepal globally competitive.
Where do you think Nepal stands in terms of business potential and economic growth?
Nepal is mainly a trading-dominant country. First, I think, one opportunity that the country has is to manufacture goods in Nepal targeting the local market which will create more job opportunities rather than importing goods from other countries. The value addition will increase if the money stays in the country. Second, for even manufacturing companies here, the raw and input materials generally come from outside Nepal. So, backward integration would be another opportunity in Nepal. Third, when we look at companies in other countries, lots of business entities have gone through excellent journeys at least in over the last two decades. India, for instance, started business excellence for manufacturing from the early 1990s. Nepal is doing well. But with all these opportunities identified and realised, I think the economic competitiveness of Nepal will increase much further in the coming years.
How can the partnership between the government and the private sector be strengthened to achieve sound economic growth?
It is important to look at government policies from a 360 degree view. Policies that are suddenly reformed with the change in government needs to be reassessed. This is where continuous dialog between major business houses and the government is important. From the perspective of businesses, the environment for investment won’t improve unless there are favourable policies in place. It is important to look at forums where public and private partnership can interact more frequently to have lot more constructive dialogues. India in the last three years has achieved positive economic vibes from this type of constructive approach. The country is heading towards the biggest economic transformation. Good governance is another thing that the business houses clearly need. Similarly, commitment of the political establishment on stable government is necessary, rather than changing the economic policies for political game. I have a feeling that there is not too much of dialog that happens between the government and the private sector in Nepal in terms of sharing their expectation and necessity between each other.
The actual FDI inflow is much lower compared to the FDI commitments that Nepal receives on the annual basis. How do you think can Nepal realise its FDI potential?
Most of the FDIs are focused on infrastructure development mainly roads, power and connectivity which is the priority sector right now for Nepal. The important thing is to know how the government manages the projects or sub-contracts of the projects. For instance, timely completion of projects is important in order to avoid addition of extra investments. So, the role of the government here is to ensure the timely execution and completion of the projects.
What are the most potential areas for investments you see in Nepal?
Nepal has lot of untapped tourism potential. Overall development in the tourism sector can be realised by developing new airports, road infrastructures and other necessary facilities. Similarly, Nepal has a huge potential in hydropower and we have been observing strong attraction of both domestic and foreign investors in the energy sector lately. The country also has notable investment opportunities in the agri-business sector. I think upgrading the available talents in the country from technical perspective is one core requirement for Nepal today.
What are the plans of Frost & Sullivan for Nepal in the upcoming years?
Our aim is to become the most preferred consulting partner for Nepali clients. When I say consulting partner, we should be their strategic choice for growth partnership. Over couple of upcoming years, we will strengthen our position in Nepal as a growth partner to meet the requirements of our clients. We will introduce more services and products to cater to their business needs.