More Than Just Capital

More Than Just Capital

By  Aswasan “AJ” Joshi

Healthy Smiles, since 2000, has been providing top-notch dental services through its two clinics in Lazimpat and Sanepa. With the vision to provide “The Best in Dental Care”, it has amassed a robust repeat customer base—both locals and foreigners alike. It is the first dental care provider in Nepal to comply with the EU infection control guideline. The clinic takes pride in its rigorous cleaning and disinfection regime. Healthy Smiles, in its two decades of service, has regularly invested in frontier, cutting-edge technologies being one of the first practices in the country to adopt digital radiograph and dental implant. The face of Healthy Smiles, Dr. Neil Pande, is adamant on providing minimally invasive “International Gold Standard” dental care. It is no wonder then that its loyal customers keep coming back. 

In early November, Healthy Smiles applied to One to Watch’s (OTW) COVID-19 MSME Fund Nepal. The services sector, that relies heavily on in-person interactions, obviously, was hit hard in the wake of the pandemic. It did not pardon Healthy Smiles either. Once the lockdowns started, the business had a difficult time meeting its basic operational cost. On top of that, the adoption of more stringent safety measures only added to the expenditure column. Be that as it may, Dr. Pande firmly believed that the increased safety protocols will actually be the key pull factor for his customers to start visiting the clinics again in the aftermath of the pandemic. Through the Fund, Healthy Smiles was able to get a working capital loan from NMB Bank. The Fund will pay the interest for 12 months. 

In addition to getting bridge financing, Healthy Smiles is also receiving technical assistance from OTW through tailored business development services. The intention is to help the business build and improve its managerial and operational capacities by identifying gaps as well as opportunities in the market. Working closely with Dr. Pande and his team, OTW has been able to delve deeper into the different facets of the business and home in on some key recommendations. The team at OTW draws on key tools and exercises to get an in-depth look into the clinic’s value propositions and how different components of the business connect to it. Supported by the information gathered from a preliminary due diligence, these activities form the foundation for the development of an overarching strategy for the business while also outlining key activities to achieve this strategic goal. 

What is equally important is to really understand and buy into Dr. Pande’s aspirations for his business. Dr. Pande is a proponent of digitizing as many business processes as possible. Quick appointment setting, and speedy service delivery will be critical to retaining existing patients and acquiring additional clients. An online appointment system, virtual dental consultation and the development and deployment of mobile and web applications will be paramount. In the same vein, OTW is working with Dr. Pande to explore smart dental health care through interconnected computing devices (Internet of Things) with the ability to share data and automate processes. Healthy Smiles is also looking into leveraging its existing customer trust, confidence and loyalty. For this to happen, OTW is working with the business to create far-reaching market perceptibility. By the same token, Dr. Pande is keen on exploring ways to optimize the use of its existing resources by putting in place an efficient management system. In the coming weeks and months, OTW hopes to implement some of the solutions that have been laid out with, of course, the endorsement of Healthy Smiles. 

OTW is expecting to deliver these customized business development services to at least 4 out of 10 loan-approved enterprises through the Fund. Like in the case of Healthy Smiles and Dr. Pande, for successful implementation, it is essential to make sure that the businesses listen to and get behind OTW’s recommendations. Different enterprises necessitate different solutions to their unique business problems and OTW expects to use its wide-ranging in-house expertise and pull in additional external support for it. The services provided by OTW will be multifarious—from helping enterprises streamline their operational procedures and improve business processes to enhancing digital presence and planning human resource. The hope is to provide non-financial services, in addition to short-term capital, to preserve business continuity for selected enterprises while building their resilience. 

“Working closely with Dr. Pande and his team, OTW has been able to delve deeper into the different facets of the business and home in on some key recommendations.”

Read on to learn more about how OTW is providing business development support to Healthy Smiles.

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