Entrepreneurship: Seventy-three-year-old Nado has been making incense sticks for the last 43 years. He started with a government owned firm in 1974.

In 1991, Nado decided to start his own incense-making business in Thimphu. He called it Nado Poizokhang. It is today a popular brand among the Bhutanese.

Nado Poizokhang started as a small family business with only three employees. They could make only about a hundred incense sticks a month.

Nado was recognised for his role as an entrepreneur by the Department of Cottage and Small Industry (DCSI) under Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday.

“It’s a good coincidence to be recognised on my 25 years of working independently as a incense manufacturer,” said Nado. “It’s not an easy job; it requires heavy physical labour. But I’ve enjoyed every bit of my 43 years as a incense producer in the country.”

Nado said that during the late 70s and early 80s, almost 80 percent of the incense was imported from the neighbouring states of Kalimpong. “We used to produce very little incense by ourselves,” he said. “But, today, we produce enough that we are exporting 80 percent of our product.”

Nado Poizokhang produces about 30,000 sticks of incense in a month with a   turnover of around Nu 6 million. Nado has also employed 18 Bhutanese at his factory.

“It feels great to see some of my apprentices starting their own incense business. I first learned to make incense in 1974 from late nyerchen (Store in-charge) Tshering Dorji,” said Nado.

Along with Nado, the department also recognised three more entrepreneurs. They were awarded certificates and cash prizes.

Bio-Bhutan was awarded the certificate for small-scale entrepreneur. Another incense factory, Tenzin Penjor Incense, was awarded the certificate for BDBL rural entrepreneur, and Natural and Organic Food Processing Unit was awarded the certificate for women entrepreneur.

Bio-Bhutan’s general manager, Ugyen, said that although the products of the company are not very popular with the locals, the company has its market in Germany.

“We target high-end markets and tourist hotels,” said Ugyen. “We work closely with the local communities for our raw materials. We are the only specialised company that produces natural and organic certified products from Bhutan.”

Bio-Bhutan produces handmade natural soaps, grounded spices, herbal teas and essential oil sprays. The company’s annual turnover is around Nu 20 million.

DCSI officials said that the competition was conducted to create awareness and interest for self-employment and also to recognise the role and contributions of entrepreneurs to the socio-economic development of the country.

The department received 25 applicants this year for the competition. This is the third competition conducted by the department.

Younten Tshedup