…  advocacy event calls for support

YK Poudel

Resource shortage in the manufacturing sector is limiting entrepreneurs’ productivity and capacities preventing its growth, stakeholders of the Handicraft Association of Bhutan (HAB) said.

To support the art and crafts sector, the Royal Thimphu College (RTC) in collaboration with the HAB organised an advocacy event “Crafting Traditions, Inspiring Generations” at the college yesterday.

Executive Director of HAB, Chorten Dorji, said that cheap and imported handicraft has hampered the growth of local products. “Over 90 percent of products in the market are imported.”

He pointed out that the Bhutanese artisans have the skills but lack design concepts for product diversification. “Bhutanese local products are not at par with the international requirements. We need improved product design and packaging to set the standards.”

HAB has provided training to the entrepreneurs and helped create awareness, while helping them in availing quality raw materials. But the entrepreneurs and start-ups do not have access to loans and also face challenges to get approvals for their businesses.

Chief Executive Officer of the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts (APIC), Lam Kezang Chophel said that the access to transportation and involvement of several middlemen is a challenge which requires immediate resolution.

“Adding value to the products will help in the branding of the products. Government should promote investments in skills and ensure that startups are financially sustainable,” he said.

A panellist, Khampa said, “HAB, with support from the government, should focus on high value, high quality, and authentic Bhutanese handicraft items.”

A professor at the college,  Pallavi Majumdar (PhD) said that the advocacy concept was chosen based on its viability to involve students, entrepreneurs, and to support agencies. “The educational practices do not adequately promote entrepreneurship knowledge and skills development.”

Five student-made advocacy films were shown during the event organised annually by the communication arts and creative media department.