Phub Dem

The Hog had been busy exploring opportunities and venturing into new fields in the year just gone by.

The year witnessed major changes in policy and reforms to drive the growth of the Cottage and Small Industry (CSI). It began with the second Bhutan Economic Forum of Innovative Transformation (BEFIT), with the theme catalysing CSI to drive economic diversification.  

The conference saw the launch of national e-commerce portal, the revised Cottage, Small and Medium Industry (CSMI) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policies and a guideline on e-commerce.

The much awaited CSI bank was inaugurated yesterday.

Prioritising the new trend—CSI for economic diversification, the government rolled out Startup and CSI flagship programme.   Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering signed the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) with economic affairs minister to generate 25 new CSIs and 500 jobs.

Going by the Plan, CSIs are mandated with a huge responsibility to carry. The industry has greater socioeconomic roles—driving innovation and investment, diversifying economic base, creating employment opportunities, curbing rural-urban migration, reducing poverty, and potential to contribute towards economic self-reliance.

The government allotted a total of Nu 1.2 Billion for the flagship.

The past year saw some startups starting up with initiative such as Jabchor, Bhutan Crowdfunding, and endless startup events—startup weekend, entrepreneurship congress, idea competition, Druk Tshongrig Gatoen among others.

Jabchor gave birth to startup businesses like Chechay Sanitary Pad, Bhutan’s first manufactured sanitary pad, Sadone Design, Himalayan Foods and Kingdom Essence.  

The Bhutan Crowdfunding platform has spurred the growth of three startups in seven months—Himalayan Food, Bhutan Alternatives and ‘One Click Shop.’ The budding startups became chief executive officers of some million Ngultrum companies.  

Amid major CSI highlights, the Pig year, for the first time saw Bhutanese textiles hit the European market with Jangphutse’s Kharza-Kop bag reaching the shores of Europe.

The 14th Round Table Meeting underlined that the CSIs and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) must take center stage to ensure a sustainable LDC graduation for Bhutan.

In addition, Priority Sector Lending (PSL) supplemented the entrepreneur with additional capital. As of December last year, PSL injected a total of 0.48 (B) capital for cottage and small industries (CSI), primary agriculture, and livestock productions.  

The Hog year noted many aspiring entrepreneurs venture into small business such as Tshazo (bamboo craft), Thazao (weaving), paper business, florist, orongbhazib (backpack), lakchu, chungchu (basket), bechab (winnow) and pari (mats) among others.

However, despite a successful year, challenges remain in the sector. Access to finance, sustainable supply chain, certification, viable export markets, competition from State-Owned Enterprises and local competitors are some of the challenges the Hog passed on to the Rat to gnaw on.