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As part of efforts to support the government’s round-the-clock response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP Bhutan and Loden Foundation have teamed up to roll out a special funding window.

The “Loden-UNDP Bhutan COVID-19 Response Fund” was announced on 28 March. It calls for innovative business proposals from Bhutanese individuals and groups that will directly address challenges and problems in the country caused or exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Successful applicants can avail interest and collateral free loan support of up to Nu 1.5 million per project.

The funding window is initiated recognizing the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health emergency. It’s a development crisis with a potential to leave behind a trail of massive social, economic and political impacts.

"We need to pay attention to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on vulnerable individuals. That is why we are working with Loden to help mitigate the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. This is not only a health emergency, but also an economic and social crisis" said Ms. Azusa Kubota, the Resident Representative of UNDP Bhutan.

“At a time of crisis, we all feel helpless. One of the most effective ways to gain a sense of empowerment is to be part of the solution. This call for proposals not only allows young people to make concrete contributions, but also supports Bhutan’s collective efforts to build resilience in our society and economy and to prepare for a strong comeback.”

The applicants must state how they seek to address the problems and challenges imposed on Bhutan by the global health emergency through agricultural production, job creation, or tackling emerging needs using innovation, technology and nature-based solutions.

“Proposals that are innovative and aligned with the government plans will certainly have an edge over others,” said Loden Foundation.

Startups and existing businesses that have potential for upscaling are eligible to apply. A select panel of judges will review proposals every Friday until the call for proposal is withdrawn.

“The entire application process will be done online and on the phone in support of calls for physical distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

Loden Foundation is a registered Civil Society Organization (CSO) based in Thimphu, Bhutan.  It works to foster an enlightened and happy society through promotion of education, social entrepreneurship and Bhutan’s culture and tradition. 

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