Access to finance still challenge for young entrepreneurs

Promoting entrepreneurship by encouraging small businesses is one of today’s undeniable economic strategies for developing a robust sustainable economy. However, young entrepreneurs in the country say obtaining start-up financial capital is one of the main challenges faced by them.

Most entrepreneurs face challenges during business start-ups, but the major hurdles were lack of financial capital, difficulty getting business premises, and lack of business skills. Some say startup challenges are government regulations, labour shortage, shortage of materials and equipment, low customer base, business uncertainty, lack of support, and work-family conflict among others.

The entrepreneur, Prem Prasad Humagai, who runs the electronic repairer at Pemaling village, said that at the root of all problems is finance. “I want to promote and expand the business, for which I need to increase my working space and get a few people to work for me. But I cannot do this currently because of financial situations,” he said.

The founder of Yaata noodles, Phuntsho Wangmo, also said, “To start a business, one must be financially sound. It is hard to start our own without an outside funding source.”

She also said that it is difficult to obtain a good market from the people because most are unaware of the recipe and are new to the product, and it is also difficult to obtain a business from them because most people prefer non-locally produced noodles.

Another entrepreneur, Phuntsho Wangdi, the founder of Tsheyang nettle herbal tea, also shared the same common challenges faced by entrepreneurs. He said that the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is the financial crisis, where a lack of financial stability obstructs any other development that wants to proceed further.

“As business owners, it is our responsibility to meet consumer needs and protect their safety,” he said, adding that it is difficult to produce the desired product without the use of updated machinery, so keeping things simple is challenging.

He also shared that it is also puzzling to receive a good business service from people as most of them prefer other imported products rather than one product from our country.

Similarly, Chimi Dema, the founder of Druna Ghu, also shared that while collecting the cereals from four districts was not a very challenging task but access to finance to do business is, “the challenge arises in the marketing field.”

Meanwhile, environment-level challenges are more prevalent than individual-level challenges. This offers a higher possibility for policy interventions. In the sample, most women are ‘subsistence businesswomen,’ that is, they are operating a business just to meet their subsistence needs, according to the Caird research report released by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB).

The report states that women’s desires to innovate, expand and transform businesses are hindered by their lack of finance. Only a few of them could be considered “transformational businesswomen”.

Like many other entrepreneurs, Bishnu Prasad Sharma said that one of the biggest challenges is marketing. He said that with a small market for this sort of 3-D art, it is perplexing to get a good market.

The founder of Sangay’s creation also said that, like other entrepreneurs, it is also perplexing to get market and financial investment-related: “most people prefer the products from other countries, and it is also hard to get business from our people.”

Chimi Dema, the founder of Crystal Moon Products, said that the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur is getting their business funded. “Being a young entrepreneur might be a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one,” she said.

According to Sonam Dorji Subba, a young entrepreneur who ventures mustard oil into oil production, among the challenges the oil business has faced are high packaging costs, access to affordable credit, and market access to large outlets such as supermarkets.

He said, “With fewer chances of getting a market, most people show less interest in growing raw materials and thus lose all interest in the olden practice of growing plants in a village.”

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu