UNDP TALKS: UNDP on Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation

25 Mar 2014

25 March 2014, Thimphu: Speaking to over forty participants,  UNDP’s David Galipeau, Leader of Knowledge and Innovation Management Regional Team - Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok spoke on the vast potential of entrepreneurship and innovation in Bhutan.

The series of on-going discussions under the umbrella UNDP Talks: Dialogues on Development was held on “Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation” at the UN House today.

UNDP’s David Galipeau said, “Innovation is not new, it’s been going on forever. Innovation and entrepreneurship go together and today entrepreneurship is a big industry.” He went on to add how UNDP can play the role of an enabler working with both governments and communities to ensure the best long term results are achieved.

Michael Rutland OBE, British Honorary Consul to Bhutan and a long-time resident in Bhutan, said of the current youth unemployment issue, “In old Bhutan, there was no need to be innovative, people were farmers and children continued with this generation after generation. However, today young Bhutanese need to think about entrepreneurship and innovation. They need to break the psychological and socio-economic barriers.”

One of the young entrepreneurs present at the meeting, Karma Yonten from Greener Way said, “Today there are institutions like Nubri Capital that are willing to fund innovative entrepreneurs and invest in young people. Young people need to think about prototyping their ideas, services and products.” Karma Yonten is the founder of Bhutan’s first waste management and recycling firm established in 2010.

Shoe-vival’s Dawa Dakpa said, “There is a very thin line between a new idea and an old one. Bhutan has to be selective with innovation due to its market structure and population.”

Sonam Yangden, a radio jockey for Bhutan's Kuzoo FM raised concerns about the ethics of doing business and how entrepreneurship measures in with the culture of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.

UNDP’s David Galipeau also advised the participants that the job market could be different in ten years. People will be seeking different kinds of jobs, and entrepreneurship can be an important way to earn revenue. Discussions also took place about the advisory support available for Bhutanese entrepreneurs, the potential of micro-small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and the importance of networking.  Some cases David Galipeau shared included on Bhutan’s diary cooperatives and the possibilities to innovate this sector, especially in the context of international markets now opening to smaller producers through the internet.

The UNDP TALKS saw a full house with a majority of entrepreneurs, including development partners and people from the Thimphu community. The UNDP TALKS is gaining momentum and seeing more participation at every session. Please follow the UNDP Bhutan website for more information about future talks.