If you are looking for locally made toys for your children, TSEM undoubtedly has more than what you are looking for.
TSEM, meaning ‘Play’ in Dzongkha, is an educational toy manufacturing company in the country that presently produces wooden educational toys such as puzzles, Dzongkha alphabet boards and Bhutan map, among others.
Started by a young couple, Ugyen Wangmo and her husband Gyalsten K Dorji, the wooden educational toys focus on Bhutanese culture and encourage problem solving, development of motor and cognitive skills of children, and introduce children to written Dzongkha.
Ugyen Wangmo, 32, said they came out with the idea of making educational toys after the birth of their son in 2014 as the couple confronted problem in devoting enough time to their son on a daily basis.
The couple, most often, after a long day, took the easy way out and handed over their mobile phone or placed their son in front of the TV. Theyrealized through both experience and news articles that this was not a healthy activity for their son.
“Such technology and media relegated our son to a mere passive consumer of whatever he was watching on TV or playing on the phone,” she said.
Abreast that there would be other adverse impacts, Ugyen Wangmo said they decided that they needed to be more attentive as parents and to provide a more wholesome upbringing.
And accordingly, the couple started the toy manufacturing company in late 2016 with collateral free loan of over Nu 1.1mn from Londen Foundation and formally started business last year. They manufactured around ten toys as of today and their most popular products are Bhutan map puzzle and Dzongkha alphabet boards.
Ugyen Wangmo said they started with toys in Dzongkha as such toys were not available in the country. However, they are also planning to manufacture toys in English based on the demand of the people.
“Incorporating our culture, our local folk stories and art in our toys is also a goal. Our mission is to keep learning and improving the designs of our toys so that children have fun while learning,” she added.
Most of the toys are manufactured using wood, mostly waste wood whichthey find in sawmills and construction sites and which would otherwise just be burned or discarded. They also use non-toxic acrylic paints for some toys and strive to use local materials as much as possible.Most of the products are sold online through their Facebook’s page and by word of mouth.
“We also plan to start offering our products through some of the recently launched e-commerce apps,” Ugyen Wangmo said, adding that they use buses and taxis to deliver their products to other Dzongkhags.
Meanwhile, most customers include the private early learning centers, parents, and tourists. They have also received a few orders from the Tibetan communities living abroad. Prices of the single product range from Nu 300 to Nu 1,600.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu