A three-day Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) fair for product improvement and marketing opportunities for entrepreneurs ended yesterday at Thimphu.

There were about 50 stalls from various dzongkhags in the country.

Department of CSI’s director general, Tandin Tshering, said that the fair was an initiative to provide opportunities to explore market and to improve individual product through feedback and interactions. “This can also make people aware of domestic products. We aim to support entrepreneurs through marketing, training, production and accessibility.”

Bamboo products, pottery, textile, souvenirs and edibles were displayed at the fair.

This was Department of CSI’s first CSI fair, which provided rental-free stalls for entrepreneurs. Past fairs were conducted by private individuals or organsiations.

The fair will be an annual event.

Meanwhile, the department of CSI decided that a startup centre will replace the service centre at Changzamtok in Thimphu today.

Department of CSI’s chief industries officer, Thinley Palden, said that the centre would provide space for about 32 entrepreneurs.

She added that an incubation centre is also constructed near the startup centre, which will provide space for entrepreneurs to test their ideas. “The startup centre is for those who cannot afford rental space, although they have good business idea.  This is not for those who are in business for more than five or six years.”

The department is taking idea applications to decide on the distribution of the space at the incubation centre. A committee is also identified to select business ideas. A selected individual will receive the space at the incubation centre for two years.

Thinley Palden said that the startup centre will be occupied by young entrepreneurs and by those graduating from the incubation centre. “We are yet to decide on how long an entrepreneur can stay at the startup centre.”

There are seven incubates at the temporary centre today. Two of the seven also had stalls at the CSI fair.

Economic affairs minister, Lekey Dorji, at the opening of CSI fair said that the CSI is one of the five important jewels of the country.

He added that CSI contributed hugely to income generation and provided employment in the country. “Although the products produced within Bhutan have opportunity to grow, we shouldn’t forget to appreciate the paths taken towards development.”

More than 18,900 entrepreneurs are involved in CSI, which employs more than 86,000 people.

Phurpa Lhamo