A father-daughter duo is providing an effective warehousing solution to businesses who are struggling to find modern and secured storage facility for their goods.
--BY MUNA SUNUWAR
Supply chain and inventory management is increasingly becoming difficult for businesses in Nepal in crowded places like the Kathmandu Valley. Entrepreneurs are facing tough times in business simplification and managing their operational costs due to the dearth of storage facilities.
With a clear and efficient business solution in their minds, the father-daughter duo of Ram Krishna Manandhar and Asmita Manandhar decided to start a new line of business to pave the way for companies to benefit from systematic and safe warehousing services. Their startup company Godam Sewa came into operation some three and a half years back and is now moving forward from its pioneering days to become the premier professional warehouse service provider in Nepal.
From Restaurant to Warehouse
But the first warehouse came about inadvertently. Ram Krishna Manandhar and his business partner had initially leased seven ropanis of land at Thankot. “Our first warehouse was actually supposed to be a restaurant,” recalls Manandhar, adding, “Initially, we planned on opening up a spacious eatery on the outskirt of Kathmandu where people could drive-in and hangout. For some reason, we had to drop the project. We used the already built shed and available space and transformed the structure into a warehouse facility with an initial investment of Rs 50 million.” In less than three years of its inception, Godam Sewa has successfully expanded its business footprint and is providing a reliable warehousing and storage solution to its clients. At present, the company operates 25 warehouses at different locations across Kathmandu.
Solving Storage Problem
Manandhar who has substantial experience in trading, was already familiar with the difficulties faced by businesses due to the lack of warehouses in the Kathmandu Valley. “Lack of storage space for goods isn’t a new challenge to any businessman here. I have faced various problems in storing stocks on numerous occasions,” says Manandhar. Despite the fact that Kathmandu valley is flooded with goods, there are only a few suitable places for warehousing. “Importers have been using commercial buildings and big bungalows as warehouses. They are using and paying for spaces that are actually not meant for warehousing,” says Manandhar. “Within these self-styled warehouses, parking spaces for container trucks and modern equipments to unload the goods in time are lacking,” he mentions.
At Godam Sewa, goods are stored systematically in warehouses that are categorised on the basis of the nature of the items. The company has different warehouses for items like food, garments and wood. Going through the hassle of buying land and constructing a warehouse for storage is unfeasible for many businesses while the available storage facilities are run unprofessionally. By providing the warehouse service, Godam Sewa has helped businesses reduce business costs and focus on their operation. “With an easily available warehouse, businesses can focus on their operations rather than spending time on finding space and constructing storage sheds,” explains Asmita.
Godam Sewa aims to properly meet the needs of big business houses to small-scale businesses. “Businesses rent out space according to their needs. At present, we can provide a space of 1,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet depending on the requirements of our clients,” shares Asmita. “Companies such as Pathivara Ply Trading store their products at our warehouse and later distribute them in the valley according to the orders they receive,” she adds.
The father-daughter duo has been overseeing the overall management of Godam Sewa. There is a team of people to handle finance, supervision and warehouse maintenance. “We have a chartered accountant working with us who is also our financial consultant. We fully abide by the financial regulations and are always looking to strengthen our overall management,” mentions Asmita.
In his long business experience, Manadhar has built strong networks that he uses to get business. “Godam Sewa is a business of trust as we provide shelter to our clients’ business assets. The network I have built over the years has not only worked in favour of starting Godam Sewa but also in getting business from various companies,” shares Manadhar.
Other than managing business internally, Godam Sewa, along with nine other start-ups has been selected for the 100-day entrepreneurship development programme at the annual Rockstart Impact Programme. The accelerator has been helping Godam Sewa in systematic operations and its mission to acquire foreign investment for expansion plans.
Mould Fresh Workforce
As this type of business concept is new to the Nepali market, Godam Sewa relies on a flexible approach in its hiring practices. “We cannot expect our team members to be fully experienced,” clarifies Asmita. “As there is a shortage of skilled people for our line of business, we provide the necessary training to our employees to prepare a workforce that suits our business needs,” explains Ram Krishna. “We have been successfully retaining our old staff and recruiting new ones as the business grows. The new recruits are enthusiastic and work together harmoniously,” he mentions. Ram Krishna states that the company values new employees as much as it values experienced manpower and are pleased to be able to pay deserving salaries to potential employees.
Although Godam Sewa is a new concept, the lack of professionally run warehouses makes it a lucrative deal. Both cofounders of this startup are satisfied with the earnings made by their business which is keeping them motivated. “The revenue that we are earning is sufficient for our sustenance and we expect to recover our investment within the next five years,” shares Ram Krishna.
“Big business trading houses and industries have their own warehouses but there are other importers and companies who are desperately seeking services such as ours. Our service is for those who don’t have their own warehouse and need a secure space to keep their goods,” he adds. “Industrial warehouses are the need of the hour. Its scope is huge and will attract large investment in the future,” he believes.
Kathmandu valley has become too compacted which has exacerbated the problem in the availability of adequate space. If one looks to construct a warehouse, chances are high that they will not find space easily. On top of this, land owners are reluctant to lease their land for a long span of time. “We normally lease land for a period of 15 years. As the warehousing business entails large investment, a lease contract period for less than 15 years will make it difficult for us to recoup our investment,” says Asmita.
The quality in service delivery of warehouse service providers depend on how systematic its business is and what simplified services it can deliver. “But there is shortage of human resources with sufficient experience in handling warehouse business functions,” she points out.
According to Ram Krishna, proper laws are needed to regulate the warehouse business in Nepal. “We have talked with the concerned government officials about the absence of policies related to warehousing business in Nepal,” shares Manandhar. “What we think is that the government should work out on developing policies relating to warehouses as guidelines for the concerned stakeholders,” he adds. “We hear that the government has plans about linking India and China through via a railway. Establishment of warehouses at strategic points will be a necessity in such a situation and will require laws to regulate it.”
Both cofounders of Godam Sewa also stress on the need to build industrial estates and incentivise the construction of modern warehouses to support the manufacturing and trading sector. “The government should also think about applicable ways to incentivise entrepreneurs into the warehousing business and for the further development of warehousing in Nepal to support the needs of the manufacturing and trading sector,” thinks Asmita.
In the coming years, the company plans to build expansive international standard warehouses spreading in areas up to two million square feet and operate forklifts for efficient unloading, storage and movement of goods. “If we are able to obtain further investments, we will be able to realise our expansion plans and establish Godam Sewa as a business leader in this field,” says Ram Krishana.