The official launch of Sahaj Challenge Fund (SCF) Round 4 & 5 took place on Friday, 23 June 2023 at the
Aranya Boutique Hotel in Kathmandu, bringing together various media houses, thematic experts, and
representatives from Swisscontact, CEAPRED and Practical Action Consulting.
With disruptive innovation at the core, SCF Rounds 4 & 5 will support service providers with innovative
solutions to solve existing bottlenecks in the value chains of maize, cardamom, dairy products and
vegetables. While Round 4 of SCF will seek services for sustainable and market-driven product
development and quality improvement, Round 5 of SCF will seek climate and environmentally sustainable
solutions for better service provision in the four value chains.
During the press meet, Ms. Reema Shrestha – Team Leader – Nepal Agriculture Market Development
Programme (NAMDP) spoke about Swiss contact, NAMDP, SCF, its objectives and its importance to
increase agricultural service provision in the Koshi Province. She highlighted how the challenge fund works to support service providers and not farmers directly. Mrs. Shrestha also gave a description on how Round 1 of the challenge fund focussed on logistics and round 2 focussed on dairy. Ms. Subhechchha Shrestha – Manager – Agriculture Services – NAMDP elaborated on the theme of product development and quality improvement and its relevance to improved agricultural activities. Subhechchha Shrestha also spoke about how this round will support product diversification through processed foods. The challenge will support companies that provide consulting services for product formulation and quality improvement.
Mr. Brajesh Malla – Manager – Non-Agriculture Services – NAMDP spoke on the theme of climate and
environmentally sustainable solutions, explaining the existing challenges in the agricultural sector
propagated through unsustainable agricultural practices. Mr.Malla brought clarity into the kind of
companies the challenge fund will support in climate and enevironementally sustainable practices.The
project’s product development and quality improvement expert, Mr. Deeptangshu Thapa, also spoke
about specific challenges and potential solutions relevant to the context of Nepal. Finally, Mr. Bipin Basnet
– the project’s climate and environmentally sustainable solutions expert – spoke on how the challenge
fund will work to bring sustainable change through disruptive innovation.
With financial support ranging from NPR 5 to 50 lakhs per project, SCF will co-finance the costs involved
in developing and piloting business models and solutions tailored to Koshi Province. For Round 4, the
challenge fund will not support purchase of equipment and machinery, though it will provide technical
assistance to applicants if required. However, for Round 5, 30% of the support received from the
challenge fund can be used for investment in equipment and machineries.
With applications now open for the challenge fund, the call for application will end on 23rd July 2023. After completion of the application period, applicants will undergo the first round of screening and applicants will be asked to submit a full proposal. Applicants who reach the second round will undergo further screening and winners of the second round will be provided support from the challenge fund.
SCF organized the event, bringing together key media houses and stakeholders and facilitating the
discussion to disseminate the relevant information regarding the challenge fund such that more
agribusinesses are aware of the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas into successful businesses.
With its bespoke financial and technical service support, Sahaj aims to improve access to services and foster innovation for service providers and contribute to a higher level of commercialization and economic
value-addition in the agricultural sector.
Funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Nepal Agricultural Market
Development Programme (NAMDP), or Sahaj, aims to build a thriving and inclusive agriculture sector in
Nepal by catalyzing income and employment growth in Nepal’s rural population. While NAMDP has
already implemented Sahaj Challenge Fund Round 1 in logistical services and Round 2 in the dairy value
chain, it is currently screening the applicants for Round 3 for innovative branding, packaging and
distribution channel services within the dairy, maize, cardamom and vegetable value chains. In Round 4
& 5 of the challenge fund, Practical Action Consulting will work as the implementing partner for