… 𝑰𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒎𝒂𝒓𝒌𝒆𝒕, 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒏 𝒊𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒈𝒊𝒄 𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒐𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒔 𝒍𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒆𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒈𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒌𝒆𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒖𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒈𝒓𝒐𝒘𝒕𝒉 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒖𝒎𝒑𝒉.
As Bhutan grapples with a shrinking market and economic challenges, resilient individuals and businesses are demonstrating their resourcefulness by exploring new avenues and adapting to the changing landscape. Despite the hardships brought on by declining trade and limited market access, there is a glimmer of hope as entrepreneurs and innovators discover opportunities amidst adversity.
In an exclusive interview, Tashi Wangmo, a local entrepreneur and owner of a handicrafts store, shared her experience of navigating the challenging business environment. “It hasn’t been easy,” she admitted, “but we Bhutanese are known for our resilience. We have to think outside the box and find creative ways to keep our businesses alive.”
Tashi recognises the limitations of relying solely on the domestic market, given its small size. To overcome this challenge, she shifted her focus towards exporting her products to international markets. With the help of e-commerce platforms, she expanded her customer base beyond Bhutan’s borders, successfully reaching buyers in neighboring countries as well as further afield. By tapping into the global market, she not only managed to sustain her business but also experienced growth despite the overall economic downturn.
Another example of Bhutanese ingenuity can be found in the agricultural sector. As traditional farming practices face difficulties due to changing weather patterns and limited arable land, young entrepreneurs are embracing innovative techniques such as hydroponics and vertical farming. Hydroponic farming could be the next level for agriculture in Bhutan. Currently, the Agriculture Research and Development Center in Mongar is carrying field research on growing high-value crops using the technology.
The tourism sector, although significantly impacted by the pandemic and the change in structure, it is also witnessing a transformation. Kezang Choden, running a family business-Holy Bhutan Tours and Treks, explained how the change in Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) structure is desolating the middle class tourist, although the luxury travelers are all right with it.
Kesang said, “Although there is a change in the structure, we are doing well and we will probably be doing good in future. We simply need to focus on re-strategizing the market in order to capture the affluent group. There are many affluent groups of Chinese, Americans, and Europeans who want to visit Bhutan, thus for the business to go well, we need to capture them”.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are not limited to traditional sectors alone. Bhutanese youth are venturing into the world of technology and digital services, capitalizing on the growing demand for online solutions. Yeshi Choden, a space engineer, highlighted how she and her team have launched two satellites.
“If we look at all the services that we use from weather forecasting to mobile communication, all these technologies are actually originating from satellites that are orbiting the earth at the moment,” she said.
While challenges remain, Bhutanese individuals and businesses are displaying resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity. By embracing new technologies, exploring international markets, and capitalizing on unique opportunities, they are paving out a path towards prosperity in the shrinking market.