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Lending a hand

Organisations, both govt. and not, provide technical and monetary support to budding businesspersons
ENTREPRENEUR SUPPORT PROGRAMS Recognising the importance of entrepreneurs in giving the economy that boost, to take it a notch higher, and create jobs for the unemployed, several organisations are promoting and fostering entrepreneurship spirit and ideas.

Equity financing and technical backstopping are provided to innovative larger-scale projects, initiated by the private sector.

One such entrepreneurship training program includes ‘business entrepreneurship growth and innovation (BEGIN)’, a Druk Holding and Investments’ initiative, which, apart from providing training and mentoring, also makes capital accessible.  This is critical in making businesses successful.

The program is also geared towards changing the mindset of people, especially upcoming entrepreneurs, from being an employment seeker to an employment creator.

BEGIN’s ‘entrepreneurship promotion fund (EPF)’ provides equity and equity like capital to businesses started by BEGIN trainees and others, such as people developing businesses at the BITC incubation centre, or others, who have already started a business, but need capital to make it grow to sizable scale.

“Recognising the need for a vibrant private sector to build a strong dynamic economy, DHI has developed a two-pronged approach to promote and support private enterprises,” said DHI associate director, Thuji Yonten.

The first, DHI ‘private sector partnership (DPP) framework’, Thuji added, is aimed at promoting business partnership, and collaboration between the private sector and DHI on larger projects, and the second, DHI-BEGIN program that has been conceived to support and encourage entrepreneurship and business innovation.

“Despite our small domestic market, there’s sufficient space for new, innovative business ideas to take off and grow,” he said. “Besides, new markets can be created, both within and outside, by applying creativity to arrive at commercially viable solutions.”

The first BEGIN training started on March 19 last year with a batch of 11 trainees, three of whom were considered for potential funding by the EPF.

From the first batch, four entrepreneurs are currently undergoing the mentorship program. “Equity financing is available on a competitive basis, predominantly based on a promoter’s attributes, ability to deliver, willingness to collaborate, alongside a viable business proposal, which has growth potential,’ Thuji said.

“Besides the fund making equity investments into the business, entrepreneurs will also be expected to contribute their own capital into the venture, along with their sweat equity.”

Tshering Yangki of Gardener’s Shop, who attended the program, said it was an opportunity for anyone aspiring to become successful. “One has to be serious about the intention, committed and hardworking,” she said.

Tshering’s retail business specialises in supplying gardening goods and accessories.  “Such programs, if held frequently, can  bring significant changes, and will  help develop the private sector,” she said.

Another entrepreneur, Harka Maya Neopaney, said the program helped organise her business plans in a  professional manner.

After completing the program, Harka Maya, who started the eco-friendly biodegradable plastic bags,  said, business operations seems simple. “BEGIN  guided me in every aspect of the business, starting from making visits to various institutions for awareness, to restructuring my business plans,” she said.

The second batch of 11 entrepreneurs commenced training from October 1, 2012.

Another organisation that has long been supporting entrepreneurs is Loden Foundation.  Through their entrepreneurship program, Loden Foundation hopes to help combat the rising concern of youth unemployment and urbanisation.   More importantly, it aims to contribute in promotion of ethical entrepreneurial culture.

“There’s an increasing number of youth, who are without job, and accessing loans from the banks isn’t easy, unless there’s a reliable source of income or collateral,” Dorji Tashi, the foundation’s executive director, said.

“The program was launched with the intention to cater to this group of people.”

Trainings, moral and technical support, and capital seed money to start entrepreneurial ventures, are provided.

“As long as the ideas are creative and innovative, and entrepreneurs committed and hardworking, they would have their own share of market, in spite of the small population,” Dorji Tashi said.

“There are ample opportunities, opening up for new and innovative businesses, entrepreneurs simply need to be proactive.”

Last year as part of annual ‘Loden entrepreneurship program’ (LEP), the foundation selected 13 aspiring entrepreneurs, out of 85 business proposals, to be supported with interest and collateral free capital seed money, ranging from Nu 0.3M to Nu 0.75M with a total Nu 7.5M.

The 13 entrepreneurs joined 39 others, already backed by Loden over the last four years.

Loden further provides support to entrepreneurs through mentorship, where each entrepreneur is provided with two volunteer mentors (one national and international), besides constant monitoring and guidance rendered by the staff.  Loden organises basic entrepreneurship trainings twice every year.

A knowledge centre, is also made available for all including youth, pre- entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs.

By Passang Norbu

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