Decentralised Hands-on Exhibition promotes entrepreneurship in villages

DSCI/JICA: Very soon all dzongkhags will have some community-based enterprises that will provide interactive presentations to both local and international tourists.

Decentralised Hands-on Exhibition (DHOE) is an alternative rural development to encourage sustainable rural entrepreneurship in villages.   An enterprise can be a village tea garden, where tourists can enjoy a first hand experience picking tea leaves with the farmers, and buying tea from a farmer.

The department of cottage and small industry (DSCI) will implement the programme, with technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).  The department will train 45 people in the next three years.

Speaking at a daylong consultative workshop in Thimphu last week, Yumiko Okabe, a resource person from Japan, said every community has its own unique product for sale and exhibition.

Yumiko Okabe shared her experience of a recent visit to a tea garden in Trongsa, saying, “I heard that some people say they have nothing in their community to show to tourists except the Trongsa dzong. I think that’s not the right way to encourage community development.”

The programme is expected to boast the country’s small and cottage industry.  Besides showcasing their products, the community-based enterprises can also sell their products and generate income.

A model for rural development enterprise development is being prepared to implement the programme throughout the country.  According to the draft model, tourists will have to pay a certain amount of fees for a hands-on exhibition offered by entrepreneurs.

Yumiko Okabe said that such programmes would enhance connectivity among the communities and the people of different communities.  The DHOE is also expected to enhance confidence of the rural people and improve rural economy.

However, the participants at the workshop said that access to finance was still the biggest constraint facing entrepreneurship development.

“People have become open to business and there are an increasing number of people willing to go back to their villages to start a business,” said a participant from the Loden Foundation. “But they have no finance. I am not really convinced. How do we sell our products?”

A participant from the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts said there should be a policy in place to enable people to get easy access to finance. “We have many financial institutions in the country, yet finance is the biggest problem for our youth to start a business,” he said.

Another participant said that the DHOE enterprises would be useful for the development of community-based tourism in the country. “Most of our rural communities haven’t been able to get a pie from the tourism sector. I think this programme is going to help our villages bring tourists to their doorsteps,” he said.

By MB Subba