A bakers story

tashi's bakery

Tashi Lhamo is 26 years old and married with two children. In 2009, she said she was unable to continue her education beyond the ninth grade due to financial constraints. She soon joined the unemployed population. Seeing no reason to remain in the capital, she returned to her hometown in Zhemgang.

Highlights

  • Zhemgang Dzongkhag remains one of the most inaccessible remote regions in the country with the highest poverty incidence in terms of food security, poor physical infrastructure and weak road access.
  • UNDP’s Income Generation Support Programme (IGSP) was initiated targeting the highest poverty rated Dzongkhags (districts) of Zhemgang, Mongar and Samtse.
  • This intervention resulted in 44 micro-enterprises such as tailoring shops, beauty salons, photo printing and internet café, poultry, souvenir shops, bakeries, potato chips manufacturing, paper making unit, electrical house wiring service, furniture unit, lemon grass extraction, dairy farm and weaving center.
  • “I want to employ others like me, that even though you are school dropout, you can still make a living” - Tashi Lhamo, IGSP beneficiary.

Zhemgang Dzongkhag (district) lies in the south-central region of the country. It remains one of the most inaccessible and remote regions in the country with the highest poverty incidence in the country and remains among the most vulnerable districts in terms of food security, poor physical infrastructure and weak road access.

With UNDP’s support the Income Generation Support Programme (IGSP) was initiated targeting the highest poverty rated Dzongkhags (districts) of Zhemgang, Mongar and Samtse. This intervention resulted in the establishment of 44 micro-enterprises in tailoring, beauty salons, photo printing and internet café, poultry, souvenir shops, bakeries, potato chips manufacturing, paper making unit, electrical house wiring service, furniture unit, lemon grass extraction, dairy farm and weaving center. The initiative has played a catalytic role in promoting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as an employment alternative among the unemployed youths like Tashi Lhamo.

“If not for the IGSP, I would have remained unemployed and a school drop out.” Encouraged with the opportunity that the IGSP presented, Tashi submitted a proposal to open the first bakery in Zhemgang. Her proposal was accepted and she received a grant of Nu. 242,000 (USD 4400), which she invested in purchasing ovens, blenders, moulds, and other baking accessories.  She says this was a new chapter in her life and she did not look back.

Today Tashi successfully runs the only bakery in Zhemgang Dzongkhag. In 2012, she further expanded business to a small cafe. She supplies the small town with bread, cupcakes, chocolate treats and other delicacies. Her daily clients are the residents of Zhemgang town, government officials, children and the occasional tourist. She earns between Nu 25,000-Nu 30,000 on a monthly scale. Through the project she was also trained in basic book keeping and accounts management.

“I want to employ others like me, that even though you are school dropout, you can still make a living”. Today she is a proud, independent woman who sends her children to school, runs her own business and has a steady income. She looks forward to employing and training people to assist her in the bakery.

The IGSP seeks to address the rising unemployment in Bhutan, with particular emphasis on youth unemployment, which reached 9.3% in 2011.  It aims to decrease the unemployment rate by providing opportunities for entrepreneurship, especially for youth in rural areas. With UNDP’s support to the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) these interventions have helped lower Bhutan’s unemployment rate to 2.1% in 2012, as well as its youth unemployment rate to 7.1%.