Jaganath Maharjan is the founder and managing director of Khajurico Nepal Pvt. Ltd, a popular and respected packaged food manufacturing industry. A family business in operation since 2052 BS, Khajurico Nepal prides itself for its uncompromising quality of its products. Khajurico Puff, perhaps the most popular product, has become a household snacking staple in most Nepalese households by now.
Maharjan is also the founder president of Godawari Chambers of Commerce and Industries. An influential entrepreneur, Maharjan, joined Desh Sanchar Chautari as a guest, where he opened up about his entrepreneurial journey.
His parents had a dairy product business some 55/6 years ago. They then expanded into bakery products. They started informally in 2041BS, but it took them a decade to make it formal and Khajurico was established in 2052 BS. His first involvement in the business started as a teenager while studying in the eighth grade. “I used to deliver bread to tea shops surrounding the Bajrabarahi temple around 4:30 in the morning,” he recalls, “and collect payments later in the day while returning from school.”
“My parents instilled both the culture and drive to be a businessperson,” he says, “the same still guides me to this day.” He shares discontentment at the current education system that values white collared workforce over other fields. He is critical of this system and mentions we imparted education in such a way that one working at the field is considered as trivial and staying at office is so significant and the same learning reinforced at home’.
“Entering the market was relatively easy for us, but establishing ourselves as a marketplace mainstay was a challenge,” he says, “I was active from production to marketing.” Khajurico has earned the best food industry award twice and is the first ISO certified food industry by Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology. “We never compromise when it comes to quality standards; we actually strive to exceed the quality parameters,” he claims confidently.
Maharjan laments the state of Nepalese agricultural industry. Despite Nepal being an agrarian economy, Khajurico imports its raw materials including its main ingredient, wheat. He shares an interesting anecdote on this topic. He once happened to talk to an Indian businessman exporting millet overseas. He was eyeing the possibility of exporting Nepalese millet and requested the former to connect himself with buyers as we [Nepal] produce a considerable amount of Millet and the taste of millet produced in high altitude is among best. He was asked to send the sample, but the following day he abandoned the idea as he read news stating Nepal imports millet amounting to [several] Cores.
He mentions that Khajurico has majority of women among its employees. It functions round the clock. He says the company has had better experiences with women in regards to hygiene, dedication, and discipline.
Maharjan shares his frustration that while majority of the industries in Nepal are MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), the policy that covers them is targeted towards large industries. The policies that encompass the sector are many, tangled, and complex that cause practical problems for any industry to accurately follow through them all. He named some of them outright – IEE (Integrated Enterprise Excellence), EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), and laws on labor, taxation, environment – that could do with some policy corrections in order to help industries on the smaller scale.
He is also critical of the current process involved in starting a new business. One must first traverse the never-ending carousel of bureaucratic office visits at various levels – municipal ward, Cottage and Small Industries, Food Technology, Quality Control, Commerce and Supply, Tourism, etc. – to simply start a business. He wishes the process was simplified that any aspiring businessperson could focus on what they can do best – start a business – and not be overburdened by the bureaucratic side of things.
Creating an investment friendly environment is a must. Once the environment is conducive for petty investment and leading life operating business and industry, we can attain prosperity with our own investment, he expresses hope.