A former civil servant turns entrepreneur

After twenty years of serving as a civil servant, Dorji Thinlay followed his passion for promoting a proactive approach to a healthier and smarter living

Fifty-seven years old Dorji Thinlay, a former civil servant found his passion on promoting a proactive approach to a healthier and smarter living through herbal or natural products, aka Touch From Heaven.

He worked with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Education (MoE), and National Institute of Traditional Medicine (NITM)and is now the founder of Touch From Heaven, a company that produces Herbal Products and Detergent Powder. The company also has a license to operate as a Toilet Cleaning agent.

Touchfrom Heaven was established in 2018 at Danglo in Mewang Gewog, 14 kilometers from Thimphu, especially to create employment and balance services of trade.

“It was only after I resigned from my civil servant job to open a new business in 2018, that I reaped the rewards of being a new business owner,” he said.

He shared that he was very fortunate that his working experience as a civil servant, was like a light in the darkness. At NITM, he was In-Charge of the then Pharmaceutical and Research Unit (PRU). They produced traditional medicines for national health services and also commercial products for financial self-sustenance.

“A few commercial products of traditional medicine works have triggered my passion for product development and creation,” he said.

By May 2019, the founder was able to launch the products in the Bhutanese market and within barely eight months the sales were about Nu 5.023mn out of which Nu 3.018mn was from herbal products.

Similarly, Dorji said that the other two products and services are primarily meant for the Bhutanese market as a part of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

The founder said that Herbal Products promote the theme of a proactive approach towards a healthier and smarter living. “These products are aimed at niche export markets to help in my small ways to service balance of trade.”

In 2020, the pandemic impacted the business. Sales of Herbal products fell to Nu 2.541mn and sales of FMCG were Nu 3.360mn, said the founder.

However, in 2021 the sales of Herbal Products were Nu 3.098mn and FMCG Nu 7.315mn; the company produced approximately 80 tons of detergent powder and sold about 75.470MT of detergent powder.

“In the detergent powder section, we produce various pack sizes ranging from 5 kgs to 250 grams and we produce one pack size of 500 ml in the toilet cleaning section currently,” Dorji said.

Meanwhile, the products of Touch from Heaven reach all 20 districts while they also get support from the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCBL), Cottage and Small Industry (CSI), and Sherza Venture, among others.

According to the founder, they have recently come up with a theme of ‘let’s grow together’ where they provide special considerations and conveniences such as doorstep delivery, an easy credit scheme of 45 to 60 days, convenient arrangements by replacing and taking back unsold products, providing promotional support of poster, provide support to your sales personnel, among others.

He said that in terms of quality, the feedback has been good, however, for detergent powder the initial acceptance was weak. “We have regarded feedback provided by customers, and shopkeepers and modified the product formulation. This year our target is to sell 100 tons of detergent powder.”

Touch From Heaven was established with loan under the economic stimulus plan from the Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOIC) and from T- Bank Limited under the Priority Sector Lending Scheme. Nu 22.240mn was invested for the plant and types of machinery.

“We are exploring niche markets for herbal products in few identified countries and to become a part of Bhutanese household products and a Made in Bhutan Brand,” Dorji Thinlay said.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu