Druna Ghu is a cereal cookies made in Bhutan
Chimi Dema often recollects her conversation with her late father ten years ago about Druna Ghu (the nine indigenous types of grains) that were then cultivated in her village in Paro.
Her father would then add on about how people over time left cultivating most of the indigenous grains and instead started growing cash crops because of the better income and demand in the markets.
Thirty-seven-year-old Chimi Dema says it was with the motive of preserving and ensuring the sustainability of Druna Ghu in the country that she started the business of Druna Ghu cookies, which today come in four varieties.
She added that after she proposed her business idea to the Loden Foundation, she got an interest free loan of Nu 1mn.
By early August, 2019, with the support from the Loden foundation, Chimi Dema established the Druna Ghu, which became the very first kind in the country to produce cookies out of Druna Ghu with an intention to substitute the imports of cookies from other countries.
“Bhutanese people consume many different kinds of imported cookies every day. As an entrepreneur, I asked why not we produce our own branded cookies,” she said.
The Druk Holding and Investments Limited (DHI) also supported Chimi through training and workshops to become an entrepreneur. “From DHI, I got Nu 500,000 support for my business,” Chimi Dema said.
Her products include naturally flavoured different cookies produced from buckwheat, rice, corn, millet and she also produces flours of the Druna Ghu.
For Chimi, being an entrepreneur was challenging and she had to take risks.
“We need patience, which is everything as an entrepreneur. Even my family members were not supportive when I started my business,” she said.
“Sometimes I felt like giving up. But what His Majesty and the government do for the country boosted my spirit,” she added.
According to Chimi Dema, businesses are totally different from entrepreneurship. A business targets only for profit, whereas an entrepreneur does both the manufacturing and production of the products.
While collecting the cereals from four districts was not a very challenging task, Chimi Dema said the challenge arises in the marketing field.
Talking about her products, she said that many customers say the prices of the cookies are high and they also say that they enjoyed the tasty natural flavoured Druna Ghu cookies.
She said, “The mind-set of the people is very important as the people are our end customers and they play a vital role in marketing.”
Meanwhile, a packet of Druna Ghu cookies costs Nu 65.
Chimi Dema said she is still reviewing the prices as per the customers’ feedback.
“But without a good market, it is also an issue currently. Once I thought I could give a packet of cookies at around Nu 30 or 40, but without a good market production is not possible at such rates.”
Chimi Dema said the Druna Ghu products are today available in 15 districts and that the certification for export is under process.
“In order to export, the products must get certified, which is currently under process,” she added.
Apart from the four varieties of cookies from Druna Ghu, Chimi Dema wants to produce instant noodles in the future.
With the target of Nu 15,000 daily from Druna Ghu products, Chimi Dema is optimistic that someday the target will be reached and her success story would be heard by the people.
She said she is also thankful to the Department of Cottage and Small Industry (DCSI) and the Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation (BLDCL) for rendering support to Druna Ghu products in the markets.
Sherab Dorji from Thimphu