Springboard Plus Program to provide a platform to young entrepreneurs to upscale startup

Minister for Economic Affairs LokNath Sharma, UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota with the participants of the springboard plus program on 24 June. 

It will support entrepreneurs in honing critical skills, networking with the regional and global entrepreneurs



To provide a platform to young entrepreneurs to upskill and upscale startups through a competitive process to support job creation and sustainability, Entrepreneurship Promotion Division (EPD), DoEE, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) in collaboration with the UNDP, Bhutan organized the Springboard Plus Program on 24 June. 

This will be achieved through entrepreneurial skills and capabilities of selected entrepreneurs enhanced viable startups sustained through upscaling support.

As a critical support to help young entrepreneurs, the joint press release from the UNDP, Bhutan and MoLHR states that the Youth Co-Lab in the Bangkok Regional Hub provides an incubation platform for young sustainable development goals (SDG) entrepreneurs to turn innovative SDG solutions into sustainable businesses through the springboard programme.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, the Springboard Programme-Employment Creation through Upskilling and Upscaling of Startups is proposed, it states that it is designed and co-created on the existing regional programme, understanding the needs and mindset of Bhutanese’s entrepreneurs. It will support entrepreneurs in honing critical skills, networking with the regional and global entrepreneurs, live mentoring sessions with experts and provide upscale funding to the potential startups. The programme complements to address the gap of startup accelerations program in a hybrid mode and concerted efforts of employment generation.

Given the crowded efforts provided in skilling, upskilling and reskilling youths in entrepreneurship and related fields, this proposed program will be much more targeted. The group for this springboard program was targeted to existing entrepreneurs, who have undergone the Basic Entrepreneurship Course (BEC) supported by MoLHR and are in the early stage of startup lifecycle. These target groups included a mix of female and male participants representing oversea returnees, Covid-19 laid-offs and unemployed graduates.

For the program, it states that about 15 individuals were selected based on the criteria or assessment and whose business idea were new amongst the 60+ start-up list. The ideas were also selected based on the presence of some element of innovation and value addition to the existing business ideas and had potential to scale up given adequate support from the ecosystem actors at both national and international level.

The program expected to strengthen entrepreneurial skills and capabilities, improved business model and enhanced entrepreneurship culture and ecosystem.

UNDP, Bhutan Resident Representative, Azusa Kubota said that there is no method way to wrap up then to celebrate their six months journey then today’s forum where they will be showcasing their learning experiences in front of the judges and the guest.

 She said, “I know starting a business is often seen as risky, not desirable particularly by their parents and teachers.” There isn’t much encouragement. In addition, she said “I think with the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation has changed little bit, at least.”

“Today’s demo is a platform for young entrepreneurs to share their business scale up plans and I am sure that, this is going to spurs another set of energy and inspiration among aspiring upcoming entrepreneurs,” said Azusa.

Building entrepreneurs for tomorrow, Minister for Economic Affairs, Loknath Sharma said, “When we hear the word business, I do not know if our country is still predominated by the traditional thoughts or still, we are underdeveloped country, because business words is not taken positively.”

Lyonpo said that all effort must be move towards that. “We must be able to convince them.”

Lyonpo said, “Our people and youth, they have ideas, concept and patient to do but platform, funding, and end to end support is necessary.”

Meanwhile,1st winners were received by KDY Herbal Drink Production and the Mugwort Solution business idea and received the cash prize of Nu 375,000 each, Bhutan Instant Surveying and Kuengha Potato Fingerling business idea received a cash prize of Nu 225,000 each for second winners. Whereas Mobile Gaming Community and UR (Useful Recycled Bricks) received the cash prizes of Nu 75,000 each for third winners.