Start-ups in Bhutan Will Benefit with More Funding

“However, in Bhutan most start-ups can’t do much marketing because of financial constraints.”

6 Start-up Weekends have been held in Bhutan so far. (Source: Facebook/StartupBhutan)

 

By Karma Cheki | Kuensel

Out of the 24 business ideas recognised at the six-startup weekends (SW) held so far, most have yet materialised due to a lack of funding. Only three business ideas have actually been realised to date.

A total of 24 business ideas were chosen from 155 ideas pitched during the six events held so far. The SWs were conducted over a period of two years from January 2016 to March this year.

Lack of seed money hinders start-ups

Although the winners of the SW have the passion and determination to transform their ideas into reality, most claimed that the lack of seed money is the main hindrance.

Only three ideas have been able to get started so far while the rest of are unable to as the brainchild behind the start-up ideas are actually college students who are still studying.

The founder of Miniature Bhutan, Sonam Tashi, who won the best idea award during the third edition of the SW, said that he was able to start his business as he received customers soon after the SW.

His business, which deals with the production of high-end hand crafted souvenirs started with Nu 5,000 and today, he is earning about Nu 80,000 a month.

Sonam Tashi said that although the SWs provide a platform and an opportunity to showcase ideas, being an entrepreneur is hard in Bhutan as the entrepreneurship culture is still at the embryonic stage.

Start-ups need to do thorough research of potential markets

He said that if the start-ups have researched well about the potential market, they could be successful.

“However, in Bhutan most start-ups can’t do much marketing because of financial constraints.”

He added that cash prizes would be more supportive for start-ups than items, facilities and programmes provided for the winners of the start-ups.

“We can then at least have the money to kick-start our ideas”.

Another winner of a start-up weekend, Rashme Gurung said that she is still in the process of researching her product and studying the market for her idea Redolence, The Scent Studio.

“Our main focus is on perfecting our product. We have also submitted proposals seeking funds to start production.”

Rashme Gurung, after hearing about the SW had gone to participate in one of the SWs without having any intention to pitch her idea.

However, she said that the passion and encouragement of the people in the SW helped her sound off her idea.

“If we don’t get that kind of platform, our ideas would remain as ideas. It cannot become real,” she said. 

“If there is someone to recognise and support what we are doing, it gives us confidence and motivates us.”

Support from the community is also vital

She added that apart from financial support, the support from the community is also important. 

“We are trying to bring new things into our country. It would help if people could support local products.”

Until the fifth edition of the SW, the winners and special mentions were provided with prizes in kinds such as an opportunity to use the incubation centres and the opportunities to attend relevant seminars and conferences. Winners were awarded cash only beginning this year.

The Department of Information Technology and Telecom officials said that the government realises that ideas in Bhutan are not able to be materialised mainly due to the lack of fund, decided to provide cash prizes to the winners of the sixth SW. 

“The fund would however, be disbursed in instalments after the winners have worked on their ideas.”

The government plans to continue providing cash prizes for the winners of the national start-up weekends every year.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.

 


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