| Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu
The importance of entrepreneurs in nation building was reflected by the week-long Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), 2017, which saw the participation of people from all walks of life. At the end of the event, Prime Minister (PM) Dasho Tshering Tobgay, was “invigorated, strengthened and inspired.” He felt a “renewed sense of purpose.”
The event consisted of a series of trainings on effective ways of starting a business, spotting business opportunities, attributes, branding and business communication, organizational management, financial literacy, book keeping and proposal writing. The state of entrepreneurship and its way forward, including the relevance of Bhutan’s education system for entrepreneurship development, were topics deliberated during the week. Discussions on resource mobilization opportunities and its impediments, impact investment and social enterprise were held.
In his keynote address, Bhutan’s PM said that the GEW gives him a sense of celebration, hope and a zest that one wants to participate. “Entrepreneurship in Bhutan has not been a journey but a movement, and a significant one for Bhutan,” he said, adding that entrepreneurs of Bhutan are equal to the best in the world. The PM acknowledged Loden Foundation in relation to the Student Empowerment through Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) program, where the Foundation empowers students in colleges and institutes. According to the PM, Loden not just creates entrepreneurs, but finds, funds and mentors them.
With speakers and resource persons comprising of entrepreneurs, policy makers, chief executive officers of banks, researchers, business tycoons and representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs), participants were enriched at the end of the week. The credit given to Loden Foundation and other stakeholders told the story. Tharchen, one of the participants, thanked Loden Foundation and other stakeholders for celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and continuing to put up GEW ever year and spearheading entrepreneurship culture in the country.
While different lessons were learned, one participant pointed out what he imbibed in a poetic way. “Remember! Everything fails in life but entrepreneurs never fail. There comes a time where everyone has to retire from their jobs but there is no age limit to become an entrepreneur and retirement age for entrepreneurs.”
Another participant, Tshering, noted that he cannot particularly single out what he learned. “I could say more than what I learned in all years of my formal education. But if I really need to single out, I now know that the public service is not the end of a career. I know which career I have to choose, based on several factors,” he said.
The GEW culture started in 2012. It has three main objectives: introduction of entrepreneurship in Bhutan; help train entrepreneurs in business and to build a culture of socially responsible entrepreneurs.
The weeklong GEW was organized by Loden Foundation. Its partners were Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR), Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Limited (REDCL), Thimphu Techpark, Thimphu Thromde and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bhutan.
Conducted at the premises of the Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited (NRDCL), Thimphu, it ended on November 17, 2017. Cabinet Ministers, representatives from international organizations, senior government officials and entrepreneurs also participated in the event.