Choki Wangmo

At the end of startup and cottage and small industries (CSI) flagship programme in 2023, Bhutan is expected to replace 10 imported products.

The flagship programme is divided into different phases. The focus this year is on sanitary towels and noodles.

While presenting the CSI flagship programme update to the Prime Minister on March 5, officials from Gross National Happiness Commission said that currently, Chechay sanitary towels were available in 16 retail stores and the joint product promotion is ongoing. Meanwhile, KP noodles are distributed across the country.

In the coming years, the programme would focus on producing pasteurised butter, cheese and yogurt, pencil, potato products, bricks and hollow blocks, vegetable and fruit juice, cooking oil, herbal tea products, honey and by-products among others.

With an approved budget of Nu 1.2 billion, the programme is also focused on creating about 2,000 job opportunities to young people from which 1,200 would be in the CSI sector and 800 in the startup centres.

In the current fiscal year, out of targeted 300 job opportunities, 64 people were employed through Bhutan enterprise award, hackathon challenge and other support systems. However, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that rather than counting numbers of individuals employed, it would be beneficial if there were at least 1,000 independent and successful startups.

Meanwhile, a draft operation modality report was finalised to set up an autonomous business startup centre by June, which would link CSI banks and startup centres. The link is expected to provide holistic support covering the entire business phases and create an enabling entrepreneurship ecosystem for the development of CSIs.

A memorandum of understanding was signed among labour ministry and Gedu College of Business Studies, College of Natural Resources and College of Science and Technology to set up standard Bio-Fablab and business incubation centres in the next fiscal year.

Under the programme, startups were trained in product packaging and entrepreneurship development.

The programme intends to provide comprehensive support to set up new production and manufacturing CSIs including up-scaling of existing CSIs through creation of entrepreneurship culture and start-up ecosystem.

Prime Minister asked the flagship secretariat to avoid redundancy and duplication of products and processes.