Loden foundation beneficiaries begin paying loans from outside Bhutan

Loden foundation beneficiaries begin paying loans from outside Bhutan

Many entrepreneurs are in line to leave the country. Few are preparing for IELTS and few are processing their applications 

Loden Foundation, a registered Civil Society Organisation (CSO) in Bhutan under the Civil Society Organizations Authority (CSOA) has been at the vanguard in supporting people establish small businesses through different programs, especially collateral free loans. However, several entrepreneurs that the CSO supported have closed shop to work abroad, while also paying their loans from these countries.

The Foundation has supported 260 entrepreneurs across the country since 2008. From 260 businesses, 17 business entrepreneurs failed. Lhakpa, program officer of Loden, said that some of those whose businesses could not succeed are working with other organizations.

However, he said that 20 entrepreneurs associated with the Foundation left for countries like Canada, Australia, the USA, and the Middle East. While, approximately more than 100 entrepreneurs are paying their loans from the country. nine entrepreneurs are paying from Australia, one from the Middle East, one from Canada and one from United States of America (USA).

According to Lhakpa, three entrepreneurs completed their loan repayment from the Middle East and Australia. Few entrepreneurs left after paying their loans.

Lhakpa also said that they do not have accurate data on loan performance, majority of entrepreneurs are paying back the loan. However, he said that few entrepreneurs are struggling to pay back their loan.

“The remaining entrepreneurs are still in the business but it does not mean everyone is doing well and success.” He also added that few are struggling but in operation.

He also added that many entrepreneurs are in line to leave the country. “Few are preparing for international English Language Testing system (IELTS) and few are processing their applications,” he said. 

Currently, Loden Foundation provides only an interest- and collateral-free entrepreneurship loan. The Foundation also give grants to entrepreneurs depending on the donors.

In 2008, Loden began supporting aspiring entrepreneurs in Bhutan through interest and collateral-free loans.

Loden have done so through support from their generous donors and also in partnership with other organizations through various funding windows.

The Loden Entrepreneurship Programme (LEP) offers interest and collateral free loans that are repayable over three years after an initial repayment holiday of 3 to 6 months.

The term of repayment is linked to the nature of the business; for instance the period can be extended to a year for an agricultural proposal where there is a growing and maturity cycle.

Most types of businesses are considered for support, whether in service, farming or manufacturing sectors, provided they comply with Buddhist principles and are expected to create employment opportunities.

Selected business ideas can avail loans up to maximum of Nu 1.5 million. Although no security is sought, they also require a guarantor.

In 2014, Loden foundation expanded their efforts beyond financial support and explored entrepreneurial capacity building in education institutions. This initiative to plant ideas in young minds has become what is today called as the Loden SEED (Student Empowerment through Entrepreneurship Development) Programme.

Once entrepreneurs join the Loden family, they can avail continuous support through the mentorship programme and resource centre.

The ‘Call for Business Proposals’ in Loden foundation are made twice a year, around spring and fall. During this time, aspiring Bhutanese entrepreneurs are invited to submit business proposals and other necessary documents listed in the detailed announcement.

Business proposals are reviewed and shortlisted by a panel of judges comprising of Bhutanese and international business experts. The final shortlisted applicants are then called for a final round of interviews.

 Its main programmes include the Loden Education Initiatives, Loden Entrepreneurship Programme (LEP) and Loden Cultural Programme. The foundation also organises educational events to raise awareness on education and social entrepreneurship.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu