Shogjur, founded by a team from Bhutan, bagged the first place in the Mekong business challenge that was conducted on March 17 in Thimphu.

Shogjur, recycling for happiness, is a business model company that recycles papers to manufacture quality products or souvenirs such as earrings, bracelets and key hangers, among others.

Founder of Shogjur, Sherab Choden, said that she conceived the idea while working on a project that included making paper beads. “Waste is an issue in our country. So, we first tried to make products using paper. In future, we will try using plastics and glass as well.”

She said that many people helped refine their ideas. The team aims to continue business as it already has key resources.

All three founders are second year students of Royal Thimphu College (RTC) pursuing Bachelors of Science in Environment Management.

The team will get the opportunity to represent the region at the International Business Model Competition (IBMC) in the United States of America on May 10 this year.

A team from Cambodia bagged the second place with Ecoplast that mixes plastics to construct roads, which is stronger and cheaper. The team received two laptops.

President of RTC, Thakur Singh Powdyel, said that ideas could lead people in all directions as the human urge to imagine, to create, and to innovate knows no bounds. “This is the reason why it is crucial to view the principle of the possible against the principle of the desirable, as His majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck did when he pitted the conventional notion of measuring progress by GDP against th holisic development paradigm of Gross National Happiness.”

RTC has been participating in the Mekong business challenge since 2016. Last year, a team from RTC came second in the challenge.

Mekong business challenge first started as national business plan competition in 2006. It now includes five countries in the Mekong sub-region-Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Bhutan.

Press release from RTC stated that the format also altered from business plan to business model competition that encourages students to design new and innovative business models and then test and validate their assumptions using lean startup techniques.

The business challenge aims to provide platform for talent development among youth in the region and to help launch real businesses and social ventures that would have impact on the communities.

The 12th Mekong business challenge saw eleven ideas before a panel of judges from McKinsey and company, Google, Holdingham Group UK, KrisEnergy, and Manulife.

A team from Bhutan presented Guram, herbal candies that had been already launched in the market bagged the third place. The team received a laptop.

Founder of Guram, Deepshika Chhetri said that of the many challenges funding and product refinement were the major ones. “Finance was a problem, but with crowd funding, we somehow managed for the soft launch of the company.”

She said that Bhutan was known for its herbs adding that it was an opportunity to use herbs for candies that are not seen in the market today.

Eleven university teams participated in the challenge. Three teams from Bhutan participated in it.

Some of the business ideas include Spare, a platform that would connect users and owners for space, Beestro which is a an App for improving the healthcare system through fixing appointments, Yukyim, beverage company and Sabaiy, an App for people to have choices for flats among others.

Corporate partners and sponsors of the Mekong business challenge are McKinsey and company, PwC, Smart Axiata, KrisEnergy, Manulife and RTC.

Rinchen Zangmo