The coffee culture is an intense one where millions of people swear by their cup of cof-fee, be it mornings or throughout the day. However, not all coffee is the same - a picky coffee drinker can easily discern a good cof-fee from an average one. Coffee lovers from all around the world have propelled coffee companies to work on their brews and quality. This brings us to Nepal Coffee Company (NCC), which produces high-quality, shade grown, 100 percent USDA organic Arabica coffee from the beautiful hills of the Himalayas. Abishek Ghimire, Managing Direc-tor, with his persistent and sharp focus on quality, has consistently made Nepal Coffee Company an industry leader. As a new-age leader, he focuses on sustainability and women empowerment and has proudly led the com-pany to its growth and high visibility. Being passionate about promoting high quality Nepali coffee has been his guiding mantra while also caring for the environment and organic farming - with these ethics in mind, he has beautifully crafted the company's position in the indus-try, which is both nurturing and diligent.
CEO Insights ASIA engages in an exclusive interac-tion with Abishek Ghimire where we discuss the compa-ny's growth, its journey and his journey as well.
Throw some light on your professional background and experience. How has been your journey so far with Nepal Coffee Company and what drives you today?
I started my career working as a Certified Public Accoun-tant (CPA)with KPMG, US. Then I did financial and man-agement consulting in New York and Philadelphia for a few years. With approximately 10 years of profession-al experience in the US, I moved back to Nepal and started working at Nepal Coffee Company in Nepal. After joining the company, I saw a lot of challeng-es in the industry, however, I also saw a huge potential for growth. I was not deterred by the lack of coffee farmers in Nepal, and began the challenge of educat-ing farmers about the benefits of cultivating coffee. I also introduced the concept of total quality manage-ment (TQM) in coffee. This holistic approach includes collecting red cherries from farmers, processing, roasting, and packaging. Initially, we only focused on selling parchment and green beans. But I also saw a market for roasted coffee. Our brand, "Necco" (short for "Nepal Coffee Company") was Nepal's first roast-ed coffee. Today, we have several brands of roasted coffee that are available in the local market as well as in the international market. The entire process has been challenging but equally fulfilling. What drives me today is the possibility of how far we can take the company and the opportunity to take Nepali coffee to the global market.
What are the aspects that differentiate your company among other competitors in this industry?
While most coffee companies in Nepal started when the coffee culture boomed in the country about 10-15 years ago, Nepal Coffee Company started in 1983 as the first coffee company of Nepal, and we have been an industry leader since. We are very serious about sustainability and women empowerment and we also strive to bring our farmers' stories and experience to every cup of coffee we produce. We have several women who have been working with us for the past 25 years and help us hand-sort our beans to ensure quality and consistency. We have worked with over 30,000 local farmers over the course of 39 years. Our experience, values, network and our focus on quality is what differentiates us from the rest of our compet-itors. We also have our own coffee farm in Nuwakot District in Nepal where we grow our own coffee.
As the managing director of the company, what are the kinds of impacts you've been creating in your role so far?
Nepali Arabica coffee has great potential, however, it is still in its infancy, and we have a long way to go in terms of competing with the global market. After I joined the company, I've been really focusing on expanding our market and introducing Nepali cof-fee to our global community. We have been going to many international coffee conventions to introduce our peers to Nepali coffee and showcase our prod-ucts, which have gotten really good feedback. We just came back from a trip to Milan, where we showcased Nepali coffee at the World of Coffee, one of the big-gest coffee conventions, for the first time in the his-tory of Nepali coffee. We now export to quite a few countries including Japan, Korea, Norway, UAE and the United States. We have also increased our local consumption by a huge percentage. Currently, we are on a mission to make good coffee more accessible to local house-holds. Few years ago, we brought in 2,000 customized small drip coffee machines that we distributed and sold to households and small offices all over Nepal. This has really increased local consumption and cre-ated awareness about Nepali coffee. Our goal is for every Nepalito wake up and drink a cup of coffee in the morning.
Could you tell me about your leadership approach?
I believe that human resource is very important for the success of a company. It's a family run business and everybody's quite close knit. My doors are always open for all the employees to come in and talk to me. We have regular team meetings. We try to make it as less corporate as we can and make our employees feel that this is their company, this is their coffee and we're working towards our common goal.
What has been your success mantra? What advice would you give to the budding entrepreneurs?
I don't have any mantra per se, but I believe persever-ance is key. Keep going and don't give up. As an en-trepreneur, you will encounter hurdles, but take them as learning opportunities. If you encounter difficult times, still persevere - it will pass. The good times will come eventually. I do try to separate some time on the weekend to be with my family, especially my daughter. Balanc-ing family and professional life is important to me, because you do need to have the right headspace for both. So, I try to create a synergy that allows me the best of both worlds.
Abishek Ghimire, Managing Director, Nepal Coffee Company
Abishek is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) by education and has a MBA from the Trinity University in the US. After his education, he spent about 10 years working in the US at a Big Four Audit Firm and Fortune 500 companies. About four years ago, he decided to move back to Nepal to work in NCC and Nepal Jutta Factory, his other venture which is a shoe manufacturing unit. He loves music and spending his free time with his daughter.