SDC and UNCDF to empower 4,000 micro, small and medium enterprises in Nepal with digital skills and access to e-commerce

A new partnership between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) will help 4,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nepal to digitize their operations, including at least 60 percent women-owned businesses.

Thanks to combined funding of $350,000 from SDC and UNCDF, Nepali e-commerce platforms Sastodeal and Thulo will receive performance-based grants and technical assistance to provide access to digital marketplaces for last-mile MSMEs. Sastodeal and Thulo will help MSMEs digitize payments, delivery and post-sales services in rural areas in Nepal, boosting their sales and helping them recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Working with MSMEs across all seven provinces of Nepal, Sastodeal will help bridge the digital divide between large businesses and MSMEs. Thanks to the partnership with UNCDF, for the first time MSMEs will gain access to the Sastodeal e-commerce platform, which currently hosts producers and wholesalers. MSMEs will enter markets across the country and receive digital literacy training to increase their sales and foster economic growth.

At the same time, Thulo, whose products and services are designed for MSMEs mainly involved in trade, technology and tourism, will expand operations beyond Kathmandu, focusing on MSMEs in rural and urban areas in provinces 1, Bagamati, Gandaki, and Lumbini. MSMEs will enter new markets through the Thulo marketplace, reaching online customers, and gaining digital literacy training coupled with technical support and brand identity and digital marketing coaching.

“Switzerland is committed to supporting Nepali MSMEs to make them resilient towards external shocks. Through this partnership, SDC aims to leverage the digital solutions and support MSMEs to gain access to the markets and networks, digitize their transactions and eventually make way to access new sources of capital,” said H.E. Elisabeth von Capeller, Ambassador of Switzerland to Nepal.

“UNCDF is proud to partner with SDC as well as Sastodeal and Thulo to advance the inclusiveness of the country’s digital ecosystem by fostering the digital transformation of MSMEs, which form the backbone of Nepal’s economy. With this project, UNCDF hopes to help Nepal become more inclusive and resilient to external shocks by accelerating COVID-19 economic recovery,” said Maria Perdomo, Regional Coordinator in Asia at UNCDF.

“As Nepal’s leading local e-commerce company, our key responsibility is to bridge the digital divide in the nation. It is a humongous task considering Nepal’s terrain and unequal distribution of technology and infrastructure between urban and rural areas. With this project, our goal is to give entrepreneurs in rural areas the same opportunities that entrepreneurs in urban areas have by leveraging digital technologies and e-commerce platforms like Sastodeal. We are also excited and look forward to our collaboration with UNCDF and SDC in this important project for Nepal,” said Amun Thapa, Founder and CEO of Sastodeal.

“We are excited to offer our platform and services to more MSMEs for building their capacity in reaching wider market, gain digital skills and strengthen their market presence with better brand identity. We are thankful to SDC and UNCDF for recognizing our demonstrated capabilities to facilitate digital transformation of MSMEs especially during the pandemic,” said Surakchya Adhikari, Co-founder and COO at Thulo.Com.

This UNCDF project on leveraging digital solutions for MSMEs is embedded into UNCDF’s Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era Strategy for Nepal, launched in 2021. In addition to engaging with the two private sector e-commerce partners, UNCDF will also be working with Nepal’s MSME federations and associations, as well as South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Business Association of Home Based Workers (SABAH) and Women for Human Rights (WHR).

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