A startup center was inaugurated at Changzamtog in Thimphu yesterday to create enabling environment for would-be entrepreneurs to work on their business ideas.

Economic Minister Lekey Dorji said cottage and small industries (CSI) are important in realizing the government’s plans to diversify the economy and make the country more resilient. “While the quantity and quality of products manufactured have not reached the desired level, entrepreneurs are moving in the right direction in harnessing strengths and potential.”

He said that the number of domestic products based on agriculture, forestry, minerals, and innovative arts and crafts are growing. “CSI promises the biggest source of untapped growth potential to contribute to job creation and wealth.”

There were nearly 20,000 CSI entrepreneurs employing more than 90,000 people, which is an average of four people per CSI as of May this year.

The centre is expected to facilitate entrepreneurs for sustainable economic growth, which is critical to creating a sound entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Director general of Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DCSI), Tandin Tshering, said that entrepreneurs would be provided space for a term of two years after which they would have to give way to other entrepreneurs. “Some of the criteria for selection include the aspects of innovation of the idea, readiness or the advancement of the idea among others.”

DSCI has selected about 16 entrepreneurs to facilitate their businesses at the centre.

Constructed at a cost of about Nu 67.5 million, the centre has space for 28 startups, two training halls, space for management office and cafeteria.

Officiating chief industries officer, Karma Yanka, said that there were about 25 applicants for the space. “Every entrepreneur would be charged a minimal rental fee.”

Business ideas will be nurtured at the centre and developed through support programmes such as mentoring, training, marketing, product designing and development, linkages to financial institutions and other business development services.

The centre will have a fabrication laboratory, which will help ease the development of ideas into products through prototyping.

One of the entrepreneurs, Kinga Jamtsho, said that the opportunity was crucial as the investment is huge in the beginning when a person is just starting a business. “This came in as a huge advantage for me.”

Lyonpo Lekey Dorji said that the government has also approved the conversion of the whole of Changzamtog service centre into a startup centre in the 12th Plan. 

Rinchen Zangmo