Laid-off Drayang employees see a glimmer of hope

The course was initiated to acquaint participants with basic skills and attributes of entrepreneurship, while also providing guidelines to operate and implement their business ideas into fruition

SONAM PENJOR                            

Thimphu

To revive the livelihoods of Drayang employees who had lost their jobs after the government’s order to cease their businesses, Thimphu TechPark Ltd (TTPL) in collaboration with the Entrepreneurship Promotion Division (EPD), conducted a 15-day basic entrepreneurship course for 31 employees which ended on 25 April.

The EPD is a flagship of the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship (DoEE) under the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR).

A press release from the division states that the course was initiated to acquaint participants with basic skills and attributes of entrepreneurship, while also providing guidelines to operate and implement their business ideas into fruition.

“Among others the program introduced Drayang employees to basic nuances on book-keeping, marketing strategies, business plan, and pitching business ideas. In addition, resource persons from various business sectors also shared their personal experiences,” the press release states.

During the course of the program, 19 business ideas were generated, mostly in the service and production industry such as mushroom farming, home-stay operations, chips manufacturing, and others like handicrafts and bakery.

After completion of the course, the best eight business ideas were selected through multiple rounds of idea pitching which were presented to a panel of judges.

Finally, the four best business ideas were awarded cash prizes of Nu 50,000 each by MoLHR so that the entrepreneurs could kick-start their businesses. The top four business ideas comprised of mmushroom farming, homestay operation, hhandicraft business, and a fruit-cocktail firm.

One of the fund recipients, Phub Dema, said that since she owned land and a house in her village at Nobgang in Punakha, she said running a homestay service was the best idea she could pitch for.

Prior to the pandemic, she worked in the tourism sector in the daytime and in a drayang as part time to earn and save some amount to start a business in her village.

However, one of the challenges she foresees in realizing her business is that her village lack adequate water supplies, poor internet connectivity, and additional services for guides and drivers.

In order to overcome it, Phub is planning to offer complementary services like a hot-stone baths, and free accommodation for guides and drivers in order to make up for the shortcomings.

After having worked in the tourism sector, she said that her village faced acute shortage for rooms and homestays during peak tourist seasons which inspired her to start one.

Kunzang Dema, who had worked in a drayang for 14 years, was rendered jobless after the government’s order to stop draying businesses. With the little she saved, she bought a car and started a taxi business to eke out a living.

She added that the entrepreneurship course offered by MoLHR was timely and given her a lot of insight into operating small-scale micro businesses.

After completion of her training, Kuenzang pitched her business idea of starting a mushroom farming business which also bagged an award of Nu 50,000 from MoLHR.

MoLHR’s Director General for DoEE, Kunzang Lhamu, told the participants that winning and losing are not that matters but that acquiring knowledge was very important.

She said the ministry is ever ready to render any help to these budding entrepreneurs and that they should contact the ministry should they require any help.

The Chief Program Officer of DoEE, Kinley Dorji, said that about 515 laid-off individuals have registered for various training programs after the government announced the closure of the draying in the country.

He said despite the ministry envisaging starting the trainings earlier, they were held back due to the pandemic. However, given the enthusiasm shown by hundreds of individuals, the ministry started providing trainings right after the lockdowns were lifted.

In addition to providing trainings, he said, the ministry will also be providing post-training supports such as critical skills training under the business acceleration program.

In addition, selected entities will be provided a fund of Nu 5,000 a year to start their business through the Youth Engagement and Leadership Program.