…all the while, creative sector laments restrictions on the usage of drones as a major hurdle
The private sector in Bhutan faces several inherent challenges that impact most of its entrepreneurial ecosystem. Given various challenges, the government provided various entrepreneurship programs (platform) in the country, providing funding, mentorship and networking opportunities for aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs.
Select heads from government agencies, private entities and independent startups spoke at a webinar titled “‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Economic Growth in Bhutan” organized by the Friedrich Nauman Foundation for Freedom on November 17. The speakers talked about the advantage of using social media platforms to startup, to market and promote the products.
The founder and CEO of Samuh OTT platform, Nyema Zam said, “We started Samuh to develop a creative economy in Bhutan given the huge potential. We do not have enough convertible currency being created through the businesses we do. In two years, we have been able to have a user base of around 1,20,000 (85 percent Bhutanese) users from across 184 countries. This shows the potential of combining technology, art and cinemas together. With the right amount of investments coming in through the creative sector, we have the potential to become a unicorn from Bhutan.”
For startups, she said that having limited access to seed capital is the major challenge. In the past two years, Samuh was able to engage more than 300 people in content production and create thousands of jobs indirectly. They have plans to replicate their module in a market of 86 million people.
“The internet cost is so high in Bhutan”, she said. “Wanting to watch the content, they are resorting to illegal means, illegally recording the content. That was really affecting us as we have a small market in our country. It is sad to see that there is no proper regulation for copyright violation.”
With the fact that Bhutan is one of the countries enjoying great political and economic stability, they can take advantage of this to become premier creative hub of the Himalayas. However, she said that currently in Bhutan, scaling up capital is next to impossible.
The CEO of Druk Holding and Investments (DHI), Ujjwal Deep Dahal shared that the way they discuss about entrepreneurship in a small ecosystem is a sense of the mindset to find the opportunity and solve that problem. Towards building an innovation ecosystem, some of the challenges are topographical, connectivity and demographic. “For any ecosystem to grow and to thrive, it is very important to look at from all 360 degrees to make it thrive eventually. To bring in participatory approach to building an innovation ecosystem today, we are working on various small groups of concept projects like testing and designing fabricated drones and launching of National Digital Identity (NDI). We are working on other 20 projects collaborating with universities, schools and entrepreneurs. We have FabLab which can be used by everyone,” he added.
A social media influencer and vlogger, Tshering Denkar said, “I recognized the gap in Bhutanese travel industry wherein there is lack of information, digital contents from Bhutan, and lack of marketing and promotion done for domestic travelers. These were three reasons to take keen interest in creating travel content from Bhutan. I started traveling across the country in 2018 whereby I saw the potential/content around me. That is when I started to blog. For two years, it was financially challenging, however, five years down the line, it has been so easier for me and social media helped in accelerating my work. Through social media, we get to spread the word faster and it’s a transboundary thing wherein people will become a global content creator.”
She lamented that the regulation on not allowing drones is one major challenge. She said that this sort of barriers never really enhance their creative work. She further opined on strengthening cyber security for the digital safety of the people.
Damchoe Pem from Thimphu