For Ton aan de Stegge of Purplefield Investments, the deciding factor to invest in the Nepalese coffee chain, Red Mud Coffee, was, “the background and ambition of the founder, Aashish Adhikari,” a shining light at the Rockstart Impact programme last year in Nepal, “and his impassioned pitch,” said Aan de Stegge, former CEO at Telfort and PcM, from his office in Hilversum.
He met Adhikari for the first time in Kathmandu at the beginning of this year. “Aashish is his family’s trump card. They sent him to the US to study. Three years later he was back. He has a strong sense of responsibility towards Nepal and his family and saw business opportunities on the Nepalese coffee market.
Apart from a good eye for business opportunities he also knows how to promote himself. While we were negotiating, he stood his ground and fought for every percent. A good sign; he is sure of his worth and demonstrates his business acumen. Of course, an investment can always fail but it won’t be because of this entrepreneur.”
The market Aan de Stegge has entered is a promising one. The production of top quality Nepalese coffee is growing and local consumption is increasing rapidly especially among young urbanites. That’s why Adhikari is determined to make Red Mud Coffee the Starbucks of Nepal. At the moment he has two coffee shops but in the next three years, thanks to Purplefield Investment’s financial injection, he hopes to have added another five or six. Aan de Stegge is even more ambitious. “In the long run, we want to become bigger than Starbucks. Imagine: a Red Mud coffee shop in Amsterdam.”
Aan de Stegge is not only putting up the money but also involving his own network. “After Rockstart Demo Day in Amsterdam, I took Aashish to some of the McDonalds’ franchisees and Douwe Egberts coffee shops. We talked about staff training and the diversity of products on offer. Very informative to take a look behind the scenes at such places”. At the beginning of October Aan de Stegge will again be in Nepal to discuss progress. “Before we start rolling out we have to make sure we have a solid base”.
He also hopes that his investment in Red Mud will lead to positive social impact in Nepal. “Investing in business means I can make a solid contribution. This gives me more satisfaction than supporting charities that always need money. With a charity you run the risk of funds being misused, whereas Red Mud will be standing on its own feet soon enough; and they will create jobs”.