Suryabinayak Municipality, the largest among the four municipalities in Bhaktapur district, is home to a vibrant business community. The municipality has dynamic set of new and upcoming enterprises together with more traditional ventures. Majority of these enterprises operate in agriculture (15.4%), trading (13.27%), manufacturing (13.27%), food processing (12.39%), handicrafts (10.62%), and service (10.62%) sectors. A sample study conducted by OTW revealed that businesses in Suryabinayak are predominantly small-scale, and employ up to 10 workers. An impressive 48.24% of those businesses either have an all-female or higher than 50% female-employees in their workforce. The vast majority of 6,830 registered businesses of the municipality are concentrated in wards 4, 5, and 8. And although the registration and renewal fees from these businesses make a mere 0.31% contribution to the local revenue and tax collection, it is worthy to note that in the fiscal year 2079/80 alone, the municipality collected NPR. 35,57,083 from those businesses.
Much like the municipality, Suryabinayak's business ecosystem is also fairly nascent. Approximately 36.4% of the registered businesses in the municipality are new ventures, operating for 2 years or less. The region features many businesses that follow traditional crafts for entrepreneurial avenues, however, most of such businesses have entered the formal economy only in the recent decade. Integrating SMEs into the organized economy is the priority of the local government for which the municipality is incentivizing businesses to register by providing tax concessions. As a result, over the past four years, there has been a notable 50% increase in the percentage of businesses registered with the Suryabinayak Municipality.
Suryabinayak also boasts of many women-led businesses. In our study, 43.36% of businesses were either fully or partially owned by female entrepreneurs. The businesses run by women are diverse, from cottage facilities producing titaura candies, herbal tea, sanitary pads, mushroom seeds, to ambitious businesses striving to become educational nurseries, clothing lines and furniture factories. Women are taking a forefront in the local economy, demanding the need for business development support and seeking to adopt standard business procedures into practice. For instance, we interacted with an entrepreneur running a titaura-candy start-up who expressed the need for assistance in developing brand guidelines and packaging. Another seasoned entrepreneur and the founder of Shree Nawras Healthy Natural Tea emphasized on quality control and operational management support. The women-led businesses have a pivotal role to play in driving the local economy and the evidences suggest that they require practical business development assistance to flourish further.
“Many handicraft and wood craft businesses that have traditionally operated in the past are now aspiring to leverage digital marketing strategies and social media platforms.” - Ganesh Man Rajchal, Bhaktapur Wood Craft
The region is further experiencing a gradual modernization of traditionally-run businesses, such as woodworking, poultry, and agriculture trading. We met Mr. Dipendra Karki, Founder of Balkot Meat Mart, who showcased the integration of mechanical cutting machines in his mart, “the modernization not only supports quicker turnaround times but also promotes higher hygiene standards” he shared. In conversation with Mr. Ganesh Man Rajchal, the Ex-Chairperson of the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal - Bhaktapur, and the owner of Bhaktapur Wood Craft, Mr. Rajchal shared, “many handicraft and wood craft businesses that have traditionally operated in the past are now aspiring to leverage digital marketing strategies and social media platforms.” This demonstrates enterprises want to further their business reach and tap into new market segments, by embracing the benefits of automation, digitalization, and other modern business practices.
The local economy in Suryabinayak demonstrates a dynamic nature as various sectors gradually transform and adapt to modern methods. This adoption of technology and economies of scale has resulted in notable increments in annual revenues earned by businesses. While some have achieved substantial earnings of up to NPR10 million, most still fall within the range of NPR 0.5 to 1million, indicating a significant number of small-scale businesses in the area.
As businesses in Suryabinayak continue to embrace entrepreneurship, innovation, and technological advancements, they are actively pursuing new growth opportunities within an increasingly competitive market landscape. Therefore, there is a robust demand for business development support among both start-ups and mature businesses. The emphasis lies in the necessity for tailored assistance in various aspects such as sales, marketing and digitalization, business model restructuring, technical or expert support, operational management, financial management and accounting.
By providing the right support and resources, Suryabinayak can further empower its local entrepreneurs, enabling them to thrive and contribute more significantly to the economic growth of the region. This collaborative effort between the local government and private actors to foster business development will strengthen the business ecosystem, driving prosperity and sustainability in the municipality.
One to Watch is the implementing partner of Project Build, supported by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and Suryabinayak Municipality.
The insights are based on findings of a sample study conducted by OTW for the BUILD project. The project aims to foster local economic development in Suryabinayak by focusing on SME development.