An elderly woman walks into the medical shop in town. She approaches the pharmacist quietly and askes for an ointment. She describes the ointment for cuts and burns.

The pharmacist shows her a blue tube and says that it’s the same medicine. The woman inspects the medicine, tries to open and smell it.

“Are you sure it is the same medicine. What if this doesn’t work,” the woman asks.

The pharmacist somehow convinces the woman that only the colour of the tube has changed. The name of the medicine and its function are the same.

The woman pays and walks away.

Thirty-year-old Rinchen Chogyal from Kheng, Silambi, Mongar is the owner of the only medical shop in Trashigang town. Popularly known as Olo, Rinchen Chogyal caters to the medical needs of not just the people of Trashigang, but also of people from Trashiyangtse and Mongar. Most of the time, orders are made over the phone and payments made via MBoB.

Rinchen Chogyal graduated from Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS). Business has been in his mind since he was 13. Back in the days, during vacations, Rinchen Chogyal used to trade bamboo products for chillies in Kurtoe and make orange deals in Panbang, Zhemgang.

“The little profit that I made from these activities encouraged me to get into business,” says Rinchen Chogyal. “I would make enough to support my parents and my education.”

After graduating from the institute, Rinchen Chogyal found work at a medical store in Thimphu.

“After working there for almost a month, I decided that this is what I exactly have to do,” says Rinchen Chogyal. “But Thimphu had several such stores and competing against some of the well-established business houses would have been difficult.”

So, in 2014, Rinchen Chogyal had opened a medical store in Trashigang. Today, he receives around 80 customers everyday. On an average, he sells goods worth Nu 700,000 a month and makes a profit of about Nu 70,000.

Along with pharmaceutical products, he also sells cosmetics. “Not a lot of people know about the shop, but the business is good.”

Karma Tshewang, a town resident, said that having a medical shop in the town is convenient. “There was a time when we had to order medicines from places like Thimphu, Mongar, and Samdrupjongkhar.”

Dorji, a businessman from Kanglung, says: “Sometimes the medicines that we get from hospital is not effective.”

The 54-year-old consulted with his son, who advised him to change the medicine. “The new medicine was available at the medical store. Within a few weeks, the rashes I had started to disappear and the painful soars healed.”

Rinchen Chogyal plans to open an extension in Trashiyangtse. But that might not happen soon. “I need someone competent and dependable.”

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang