At a time when the cottage and small industries (CSIs) globally are turning out to be mainstream financing target, Bhutan is well placed to reap the benefits.
Not only the philosophy of Gross National Happiness is fully aligned with evolving investor and corporate mindset but its demography is also heavily skewed towards millennials, who think businesses should go beyond profits to improve society.
This was the message from the keynote speaker of the second Bhutan Economic Forum of Innovative Transformation (BEFIT), Merisa Drew, the chief executive officer of impact advisory and finance department at Credit Suisse. The BBC has recognised her as one of the most powerful women in Britain and Fortune Magazine has named her among the top 50 most powerful women in international business.
Impact investment, she said is already a half trillion USD financial market. In addition, sustainable investment accounts for more than USD 30 trillion. It means investment with financial returns while creating a positive environmental and social impact.
It is not just investors but the corporate world too that is shifting dramatically in their quest to solve global challenge sustainably.
There are already more than 2,000 signatories to UN principles of responsible investment accounting for USD 85 trillion.
“The Sustainable Development Goal is the language world is using today,” Merisa Drew said. The SDG, she said has identified world’s biggest problems and public and private sectors, investors and entrepreneurs must use the 17 goals to attract investment.
Bhutan, she said has another advantage. The median age of Bhutanese is 27 and demography is heavily weighted towards generation of millennials. According to Credit Suisse’s global next generation report, millennials perceive corporate purpose as to improve, educate, inform and promote wellbeing of society, generate jobs and protect the environment besides profit.
This, she said will drive CSI growth while solving problems related to environment, social and governance.
Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering, in his inaugural address said that CSI is the focus of the government and that a flagship programme was approved. He said that the economic survey that was launched last week clearly points out that businesses are confronted with lot of challenges and that it must be addressed. As a practicing surgeon, he said that his scanner is now on the government policies.
The Royal Monetary Authority governor, Dasho Penjore said the theme of the second BEFIT, ‘catalysing CSI to drive economic diversification’ is timely and relevant given the objectives of the 12th Plan and underlying economic challenges such as youth unemployment.
“This is a national undertaking to put in place necessary reforms,” he said. For a robust CSI growth, he said enabling regulatory environment is crucial to nurture entrepreneurial culture, drive innovation and technology, improve market access and enhance access to finance.
While it is time to turn rhetoric into reality, to do so the vice president of Singapore based consultancy firm, CrimsonLogic Yeong WeeTan said that the country must put into action the policies and plans.
The BEFIT conference that began yesterday saw the official launch of national e-commerce portal, the revised CSMI and FDI policies and a guideline on e-commerce.