Even with the country abuzz with the national council elections, the past few days saw youth in the limelight.
The national start-up weekend saw youth pitching hundreds of business ideas that were powered by technology. Of the 157 business ideas, the top five bagged grants to support their projects. At the Mekong business challenge meet, a team from Bhutan pitched its idea to manufacture souvenirs from recycled paper. The team, who are students of Royal Thimphu College, bagged the first place.
At a time when the nation appears skeptical of its youth, such developments are commendable. Their innovations and the spirit of entrepreneurship show the potential of youth to do better and change norms. They have broken barriers and as a country that gave the world the idea of happiness, we believe that this is only the beginning.
Entrepreneurs are often hailed as agents of change because their innovations create jobs and boost economic development. Bhutan has just begun to see its potential and the priority sector lending policy, even with initial hiccups appears promising in providing a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs. But it has still opened an avenue where it may be enough to start with a business idea.
This platform still remains open to the 152 ideas and more that were pitched at these business challenges. There is little that is heard of the winners’ business ideas that were presented in the past and while we would like to believe that their ideas have materialised, we are also wary that some may not have taken off.
Entrepreneurship is not a smooth process especially when funding and mentorship are scarce. Our entrepreneurs require assistance, both technical and financial as well as proven policies and institutions to support their growth. While some efforts are being made, there is still a need to assess the challenges our aspiring entrepreneurs face. If we are serious about addressing unemployment in the country, we must support entrepreneurship. If we believe in our youth and their conviction to materialise their business ideas, the society and our policy makers must support them.
Bhutan has consistently worked towards creating an enabling environment for its people to pursue happiness. It can and must do the same in creating an enabling environment for its people, both young and old to pursue entrepreneurship. It must stimulate innovation not just by improving the general business environment, which is a prerequisite for innovation. Bhutan has a lot to do even here.
The GNH survey found that our youth, the students especially with high positive emotions. But it was also this group that was the most angry. Instead of condemning these negative emotions and blaming age, it is time the society starts analysing these findings.
That our youth are beginning to engage in entrepreneurship and innovation is a promising development for the country. It must be sustained.