Returning to Nepal has its rewards
Karvika Thapa was living the American dream in Boston with a promising career in the Information Technology sector. But after 14 years she decided to head back home to Nepal with her husband and two young daughters.
During the three years since, she has worked hard to establish a successful international software company, Kimbu Tech, one of the very few women-led IT startups in Nepal.
“At first, it was nerve-wracking, but I was excited to give back what I owed to my country where I grew up,” says the 40-year-old Karvika. “I also wanted my daughters to learn Nepali culture.”
Starting a company was not at the top of her mind when she returned to Kathmandu, but when she found that there were so few women in Nepal’s IT sector, Karvika decided to take the risk and work to create quality jobs, especially for women in a male-dominated industry.
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Karvika had been one of the handful of female students in the first year of Kathmandu College of Management’s bachelor’s program in information systems. She then went to the US for her MBA and stayed on to work, over the course of her years there, in IT solutions, data management, database marketing and campaigns in education, healthcare, and retail.
Today, she leads a quality team of Nepali women and men who provide software development and maintenance for companies in Israel and the US. Karvika hopes that their work will help create a home for qualified and talented programmers in Nepal and that that in turn will build recognition globally for Nepali programmers.
There are a few other companies working in IT and Artificial Intelligence in Nepal, and the sector has great potential as an employment generator. But Nepal’s talent pool of skilled programmers is still a well-kept secret in the IT world.
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“We have very professional young Nepalis working on some of the world’s most innovative animation and block chain projects. They have also worked on Disney movies while still based in Nepal, so there is no shortage of talent here” said Karvika.
Although Karvika got her degree and worked abroad, she has learnt from experience that it is not necessary to have an IT degree to get into programming or coding. Students can enter the tech business with an arts or any other degree, and neither do Nepalis have to go abroad to find such jobs. Karvika’s company has been providing software and programming training in order to create more programmers and has been working with the Robotics Association of Nepal to provide scholarships to encourage young women.
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“My dream is to see women not just become IT experts and programmers but also take a leadership role in this field,” said Karvika, who wants also to change the mindsets of parents, who are so keen on sending their children abroad for better education and jobs. She says times have changed, and it is possible to do as well right here in Nepal, especially in the tech sector.
There is high demand for programmers globally and Nepal should prepare itself to ride this wave. There are many international companies trying to set up shop here and build our IT industry, but for this to happen the government needs to step in and take advantage of the opportunity, explains Karvika. She gives the example of Bangladesh, which until a few years ago was not known for tech, but where the industry is now booming.
Asked about her most rewarding experience after returning to Nepal, Karvika says it was when her company signed a contract with an international client. She said: “We had worked hard to get the project, and when we got it we realised we had put Nepal on the global map. It was amazing not just for our company but also for the country, for being internationally recognised.”
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