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A frustrated man’s startup spurs high hopes – OnlineKhabar English News



Suraj Raj Pandey met Ahmed Fahim when he was at a Nepal-Bangladesh youth exchange programme in 2017. Fahim’s family had been in the textile business for about a century as it owned the Delta Composite Knitting Ind Ltd.

While in Bangladesh, Fahim invited Pandey to visit his factory. Until then, he says, he knew nothing about the knitting and textile industry and also did not have any interest in it. 

But, that meeting changed everything as it led Pandey to come up with a smart-casual apparel brand, Fibro, in the Nepali market, which has now emerged as a promising youth-led enterprise of the country.

Turning problems into opportunities

Visiting the factory, Pandey found there were about 8,000 workers working in one shift and the factory operated in three shifts. “Out of curiosity, I asked him if he supplied his products to Nepal as well,” Pandey recalls, “He answered yes and also asked me if I wanted to get involved.”

His question triggered a realisation in Pandey that Nepal had everything such as manufacturing capacity, skilled human resources and market, but only lacked local brands that the majority of the public could afford.

He thought fashion should be for everyone and everyone had the right to feel good and look good on their budget. But, that was not possible in Nepal.

“Then, I questioned myself: why don’t we start an apparel brand for Nepal?”

That is how the brand ‘Fibro’ was conceived in order to democratise the way Nepal understands the fashion and apparel industry. Pandey initially invested Rs 10,000 to launch the company in November 2018 as a pet project and formalised it in February 2019. 

“Initially, we started with three founders. However, as of now, we are two founders: me and Oskar Shrestha based in Pokhara, who handles social media and graphics,” says Pandey.

Fibro hit the market first with 40 pieces of their winter fur jacket in signature black, with the USP of it being waterproof, dustproof and water-resistant. “We sell about 600-700 units per year,” he says.

Demoralisation and remoralisation

As soon as the business started, Pandey realised it was easier said than done, and doing a business was not smooth.

The first problem was the market. He sold his products mostly to his friends and families initially. However, that list was short, making the sales drop to zero for about two months.

“Still, we were not able to cross that periphery of friends, families and fools(the three Fs of a marketing strategy). We were having hard times to reach the new customers,” says Pandey, “I was totally demoralised.”

Meanwhile, one day while walking around New Road, Pandey found a random person wearing Fibro. “That moment motivated me to keep going.”

This was not the only hurdle that this startup had to go through. “We also find it hard to challenge the mentality of the Nepalis. They think, without experience, it is Nepali hence is super expensive and the quality must be cheap. They used to compare us with other online shops,” speaks Pandey.

Then, they started encouraging people to visit their workplace in Kamalpokhari of Kathmandu, touch, feel, wear the product and buy it only if they like.

Gradually, the company was growing. But, the bigger challenges were yet to come.

Like many other companies, the Covid-19 pandemic hit their business as well. Pandey says, “Right after the lockdown, our sales were down by about 90 per cent. We are gradually recovering the losses.” 

Photo: Fibro

Still, the sales are low, there is a shortage of raw materials and a lot of other problems. Due to that, the production has not completed on time and the cost of production has increased.”

Higher hopes

Nonetheless, the lockdown indirectly did something amazing to this brand. Pandey shares, “After the lockdown, during Dashain, when a lot of companies were shutting down, a lot of our loyal customers supported us by buying our products even though they did not have the need.”

For example, Prarthana Saakha, the founding managing director of Helmets Nepal, who is also one of the loyal customers of the Fibro shares, “Fibro’s is the first jacket that goes with every outfit and can be used in every occasion. I’m truly thankful.”

This kind of support and love from the customers made Pandey realise, “This is no more my brand, but our brand.”

As of now, Fibro is doing the sales of Rs 15,000- Rs 17,000 every day on average. Pandey also claims about one million people know this brand.

However, this brand aims much higher. Pandey says, “We are seven to ten team members. We are still not a (big) brand; we are a small brand targeting a small customer base of about 40,000. But, we definitely want to go beyond this.”

Further, the Covid-19 crisis and many problems existing in Nepal’s apparel industry have inspired this brand to be self-sustainable. It has started producing quality products at low costs, using locally available raw materials. 

Likewise, they are also opening their own production house in the next two weeks.

Further, Pandey adds, “We are also looking forward to starting our five verticals: Fibro Corporate to manufacture apparels for corporate houses, Fibro Box as a kind of a gifting service, Fibro Go as physical stores in five cities, Fibro Custom to customise the apparels as per the customers’ demands and Fibro Premium for exclusive designs.”

“Ultimately, we aim to develop this brand as the national brand.”

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Dambar Chemjong’s efforts to revive TU’s glory – OnlineKhabar English News



Dambar Chemjong is sitting outside his office in the Central Department of Anthropology at Tribhuvan University, the oldest and biggest university in the country, briefing a prospective student about the benefits of studying anthropology. His eyes light up as he talks as that one can clearly see how passionate he is when it comes to it. He shows the prospective student the research conducted by the department. To make things easier for the student, he even calls to ask when admissions for the department would open. To him, this is just a part of his job.

“I want to change things. Make a difference,” says Chemjong, the head of the Central Department of Anthropology at the university. “They say the university is dead and not like it was. But, I beg to differ and want to prove to people that it is alive and doing well.”

Chemjong took office in August 2018 and since then has changed the face of the department. He has added relevance to the course, created a fun learning environment, established an automated library and even constructed a garden to add some aesthetic to an otherwise dull TU compound. 

But now, he wants to do more. Through small efforts like these, he wants his students to produce journals and research on topics not discussed before. He wants to create a learning environment at TU itself and hopes other departments can do the same so that the TU can once again become the students’ first choice if they choose to stay in Nepal.

The garden was constructed with funds from a USAID-funded project. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Big issues with big institution

“Small things like these go a long way. You need a feel-good factor,” he says. “But, this is just a beginning as a lot more needs to be done for the university to do that.”

The major problem, Chemjong says is the TU’s centralised structure that does not help the departments or the constituent campuses that are spread across Nepal from Taplejung in the east to Darchula in the west. He says that currently, the TU is too big. Currently, the university along with its constituent campuses in all seven provinces has over 600,000 students.

“If you look at top universities in Europe and the US, there are hardly 10,000 students. Only state universities in the US have more than 10,000,” he says.

His solution for this is to scrape all the constituent campuses and set up different universities in each province with not more than 5,000 students in one.

“What is the use of having over half-a-million students when you can’t even conduct exams and release results on time,” he questions.

Chemjong wants this library to become a learning centre for anthropology students. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Another problem he says is having to ask the central campus at Kirtipur for even minor decisions. From adding a bench to staff for cleaning, everything has to go through the central campus at Kirtipur.

“If you want to make any decisions at a campus in Darchula, you’ll have to ask permission from Kirtipur. This, to me, makes no sense. If we can decentralise it, I’m sure in the next decade, we can see a lot of improvement.”

But, for that to happen, the leg-pulling culture at the university needs to stop, he says. He calls on teachers and officials at the university to understand what the place stands for and be true to its principles.

“As professors and teachers, we need to understand that we have to evolve because today’s age is different. Students are different. If they won’t find value, they’ll go abroad.”

While he says that students going abroad is more to do with it being more accessible, he is aware that not all departments in the university offer attractive education.

“I don’t want to speak about others, but there are some courses which are quite archaic. That needs to change for the TU to become a sought-after destination for students.”

Journals published by the TU Central Department of Anthropology. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

For continuous growth

He gives the example of his own department. When he started out in 2018, there were only nine students. Today, there are nearly 30 as the department is planning on adding PhD courses having recently added MPhil.

“Constantly evolving is important in today’s age. We’ve also been talking about credit transfers and being a part of the Erasmus exchange programmes. These are what make courses attractive for students along with the different research and job opportunities that we have been helping them out with.”

This, he says, will help the individual capacity of both the students and teachers as with better teachers, the place will have better students who will drive each other towards perfection. But, its not as easy and he knows that.

“Good teachers are not appreciated in Nepal. I feel that a good teacher who has the ability to pull students needs to be paid more. It’s simple. But, teachers getting paid more in Nepal is not the norm, which is why many do research work individually with other organisations.”

A classroom at the TU Central Department of Anthropology. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

He says he does not blame them but instead the system that makes it sound bad that teachers work for these organisations. He says, this, instead, should be promoted like it is in the west as it will improve the teachers and be good for the organisation. 

“But, here, they want them to sit in a room and not be open to exploring, which is dumb.”

This is why he says people at the TU need to be vocal as it can create a change through dialogue and conflict. 

“They say I talk a lot. But, I do so because not many here do. I want to make sure that this department does well till I’m here. I don’t like leg-pulling. I want to work with all I have and give all that I have for this department and help both students and teachers reach their goals.”

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Hero Motocorp launches Hero Xtreme 160R and Hero Hunk 150R in Nepal – OnlineKhabar English News



Kathmandu, March 15

Building on its commitment to providing youthful, premium and technologically-advanced products in the Nepali market, Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters, on Monday launched two new premium motorcycles in the country – Hero Xtreme 160R and Hero Hunk 150R.

Adding a striking and powerful new chapter to the popular premium brand Xtreme, the Xtreme 160R further strengthens Hero MotoCorp’s presence in the premium motorcycle segment, says the company.

The motorcycle offers an unparalleled mix of performance, sportiness, and features while boasting a muscular stance with an optimum mix of comfort and control.

The Xtreme 160R is accompanied by an all-new Hunk 150R, designed to deliver an unmatched ride experience along with new-age styling.

Both the new motorcycles cater to the aspirations of the youth in Nepal and offer a dynamic combination of performance, styling, and differentiated appeal, the company claims.

The Xtreme 160R and Hunk 150 R will be available at Hero MotoCorp showrooms across the country.

The Xtreme 160R, which comes with a double-disc and a single-channel ABS is priced at Rs339,000 while the Hunk 150R which has the same feature is priced at Rs279,500.

Commenting on the launches, Sanjay Bhan, Head – Global Business, Hero MotoCorp, said, “ The Xtreme 160R has performed well in several global markets and we expect it to do well in Nepal too. We are confident that both the motorcycles will enable us to meet the aspirations of customers here.”


Class leading acceleration

Setting the bar for sportiness and real-world performance, the new Xtreme 160R comes with a 160cc air-cooled BS-VI Compliant engine that is powered by XSens technology and advanced Programmed-Fuel-Injection. The Engine delivers an impressive power output of 15 BHP @ 8500 RPM. Joining the fast lane with a class-leading acceleration – 0-60 km/h in 4.7 seconds, the motorcycle has one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class, thanks to the low kerb-weight of 138.5 kg.

Exceptional handling

The new Xtreme 160R enjoys a commanding riding position with ergonomics engineered for the streets. The lightweight rigid diamond frame setup offers exceptional handling on the streets while making it a corner happy machine at the same time.

The 37mm telescopic front forks and a 7-step adjustable Rear Mono-shock Suspension setup is tuned for urban agility, providing precise handling and a smooth ride. Brakes with 276mm front petal disc and 220mm rear petal disc ensure that the rider is always in full control and confident of the stopping power. The 165 mm ground clearance ensures the ride is hurdle free.

First-in-segment features

The new Xtreme 160R is paired with a first-in-segmental LED package, from a sculpted full LED headlamp with LED DRLs in front, to LED indicators with hazard switch and down to the rear H signature LED tail lamp. The inverted fully digital LCD display together with the first-in-segment side-stand engine cut ff ensures the motorcycle is both technologically advanced and safe.

The head-turner is available in three vibrant colour combinations of pearl silver white, vibrant blue, and sports red.


Superior ride and handling

Equipped with a 149cc air-cooled engine, the core of Hunk 150R delivers an impressive 14.2 BHP of power and 12.6 Nm of torque.

Aimed at providing real-world performance, the all-new Hunk 150R features a lightweight yet rigid diamond tubular frame offering precise handling and stability in corners and straight roads. Paired with 130/70MM radial rear tyre, the Hunk 150R ensures a superior road grip is provided in all types of road and riding conditions.

The riding triangle has been tuned to provide the perfect balance of agility, stability, and comfort. The motorcycle also boasts of a first in category 7 step adjustable mono-shock suspension for best in class handling ensuring a sporty ride. The broad 37mm beefy front forks also ensure a stable and plush ride.

Best-in-class features

The motorcycle boasts many safety features and is equipped with the first in category optional single-channel ABS ensuring safe braking. Sporting a new alloy wheel design, the 276mm front, and 220mm rear disc brakes come as a standard feature for efficient and immediate power stopping in all riding conditions. 

Designed to provide ease of access, the motorcycle features a sporty digi-analogue instrument cluster with a side stand indicator, trip metre, and a service reminder. The self-start button comes as standard and the engine kill switch is for added convenience. 

Dynamic design and style 

The Hunk 150R flaunts a muscular fuel tank with aggressive shrouds that make a statement while riding. Adding to the striking appeal is a chiselled rear cowl, sporty headlight with wolf-eyed LED position lamps, LED taillight with LED light guides making it easier to get recognised even in dark. The sport-dynamic graphics actuate the design lines offering an unmistakable style.

Colours with expression

The Hunk 150R is available in three colours – NH1 black, sports red, and techno blue.  

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Here are 6 stores selling clothes for your pets in Kathmandu – OnlineKhabar English News



Clothing is not only for humans. Although they are not a necessity for every animal living in your family, pets’ apparels and accessories have become a trend nowadays.

Even though this business has already become a thriving industry in the western part of the world, the dog clothing industry is thriving among urban pet lovers here in Nepal as well. As a result, there are many pet stores (both virtual and physical) in the country that offer varieties of pets’ outfits and accessories that include gloves, sweatshirts, boots, socks, coats, jackets, and whatnot.

Here is a list of some pet stores in the Kathmandu valley, from where you can buy dresses and accessories for pets:

1. Pawsome

Photo: Screengrab from Pawsome’s Instagram page

Pawsome is an online pet store that sells only pet outfits and accessories, especially for cats and dogs. The major products of Pawsome are bandana (scarfs), outfits (Santa outfit, reindeer outfit, navy outfit, and many more), and beds for pets. This store also offers matching hairband and rubber band for pet owners along with pets’ bandana, in case you want to twin with your pets.

You can just place your order via its Facebook or Instagram pages for getting your pets’ outfits and make the payment on delivery.

2. Pet Store Nepal 

Photo: Screengrab from Pet Store Nepal’s website

Pet Store Nepal is another leading e-commerce website that sells pets, mainly dogs and fish aquariums and foods and dogs’ supplies including the dog apparels. Some of the dog dresses that this store offers are scarves, shoes, and socks.

Pet lovers in the Kathmandu valley can buy pet clothes online and pay the amount on delivery. Those outside the valley can also get the delivery service but have to pay in advance.

3. Pawshome Nepal

Photo: Screengrab from Pawshome Nepal’s Instagram page

Pawshome Nepal is one of the popular online pet stores where one can buy pets, mainly dogs of different breeds as well as their clothing, toys, and accessories such as gloves, collars, beds, balls, wheels, and ropes among others. Besides this, Pawshome Nepal also offers pets’ food and beverages, healthcare, and beauty products.

Like many online pet stores, pet owners can purchase apparels for their pets from here online and get their pets dressed up.

4. Khicha

Photo: Screengrab from Khicha’s Instagram page

Khicha is an online pet apparel store where pet lovers can get made-in-Nepal outfits for their pets, mainly dogs. Pet apparels of Khicha are also available on Daraz. And, their products are hoodies, t-shirts, personalised jerseys, and many more outfits.

Pet lovers can also get personalised name tags for their pets and customised dresses. Besides via Daraz, Pet lovers can get their clothes via Instagram and Facebook pages of this store. 

5. All Breed Pet Shop

Photo: Screengrab from All Breed Pet Shop’s Facebook page

All Breed Pet Shop is a pet store based in Naya Baneshwor, Kathmandu. This pet store sells dogs of different breeds as well as dogs clothes and accessories such as fleece outfits, collars, t-shirts, jackets, and so on. 

Pet lovers can buy outfits for their pets both online and offline from here.

6. Luswaa

Photo: Screengrab from Luswaa’s Instagram page

Luswaa is a small clothing brand specialised in crocheting and knitting based in the USA, owned by a Nepali national.

This startup offers varieties of knitted and crochet products such as key chains, neck warmers, mittens, hair ties, beanies and dog crochets and sweaters as well.

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