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Fifteen Bhutanese entrepreneurs, 10 agribusinesses and five tech businesses, participated in a startup pitching contest in Thimphu yesterday.

The contest was a part of the Bhutan-India Startup Summit, which will be held in Thimphu today.

According to a press release from Indian Embassy, the five winners of the pitching contest would travel to India for exposure and orientation visit focusing on startups ecosystem through the India government’s funding.

Speaking before the pitching session, Governor of Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, Dasho Penjore, said that like the global community, Bhutan too was embracing the evolution of social change.

He said Bhutan transitioned from a completely agrarian society in the 1950s to planned development activities in the 1960s where the concept of civil service was born.

“Gradually, in the mid-80s, the corporate structure grew with the establishment of hydropower, tourism, mining, manufacturing industries, and many small and medium scale industries,” he said.  “But the 21st century is for business.”

According to the governor, the profession of startups and young entrepreneurs was one of the most important components of the growing economy.

He said the government was also venturing into startups, incubation, and mentoring. “In the present Plan, there are several flagship programmes notably related to startup.”

He cited the example of allocating Nu 1 Billion(B) for an organic flagship programme for agribusiness to leverage the potential businesses from agriculture.

Dasho Penjore also said the cottage and small industry (CSI) and startup flagship programme worth Nu 3B would support the startup ecosystem. “Besides, RMA also support the ecosystem with access to finance and other initiatives such as Jabchor, Priority Sector Lending and crowdfunding.”

The Embassy of India, Thimphu, in partnership with the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry, Start-up India, Invest India with the support of Ministry of Economic Affairs, RMA and Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry would host the Bhutan-India startup summit.

According to the press release, the Railways and Commerce and Industry Minister of India, Piyush Goyal, will participate in the summit. “A high-level business delegation comprising the chief executive officer and managing director of Invest India and captains of Indian Industry would participate in the summit.”

Other participants include parliamentarians, government officials, startup entrepreneurs, representatives of think tanks and members of civil society from both countries.

The summit will witness various discussions including fostering entrepreneurship in information technology and other emerging technologies and investment opportunities in Bhutan

The Confederation of Indian Industry and Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding facilitating enhanced cooperation and collaboration between the business communities of both countries.

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