Jigme Choden & Sonam Chukey

Pema Tamang observed her friends folding edges of pages repeatedly to mark their reading. She decided to give them an alternative: her handmade book marks.

The student of Arekha Middle Secondary School said: “I started making bookmarks using waste paper and started selling them.” Pema made a profit of Nu 700 last year. She gave special discounts to students who could not afford to buy gifts on Teacher’s Day.

The 16-year old is a participant in a 10-day Students Business Seedling (SBS) winter programme featuring a special little CEO’s business session underway in Thimphu and hopes to further enhance her business idea.

Financial Institutions Training Institute (FITI) in collaboration with Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) is conducting the training for 24 students between 13 and 16 years from different schools. The participants were selected based on their writing skills on business ideas.

The programme was conducted to help children understand about Business Model Canvas (BMC), idea pitching, financial literacy and also to teach them how to create a business name.

The programme coordinator, Rohit Gazmer, said this was the second time the annual programme was organised. All the participants were from Thimphu last year. This time organisers focused on rural students and had only two participants from Thimphu.

The concept of this programme was inspired by Julie Ann Wood’s work “More Than a Lemonade Stand” a camp where young entrepreneurs are guided in planning, implementing and running their business ideas. SBS winter programme took her content but in the Bhutanese context.

Rohit Gazmer said that this programme not only enhanced their entrepreneurship skills but leadership skills as well.

The programme began with each student presenting their business ideas, which the organisers helped to improve. The business ideas were school banks, opening a theater in Sakteng, a cobbler shop with shoe manufacturing factory in Paro, among others.

A class X student of Gesarling Central School, Kamali Maya Darjee wants to open a bank in her school. She said many students are wasting money on junk foods and other things. A bank in her school would enable them to save money.

“When we grow up, not everyone is going to get government jobs so we should do something different from the rest in order to earn a living,” she said.

Yeshey Dorji, 12, said, “In Paro there are not enough cobbler shops, my plan is to open one, where I will also make shoes.”

Dorji Tenzin, studying in Shema Gangkha Primary School wants to focus on helping the poor and unemployed youth through his dairy business.

Rohit said that students at the beginning of the session were shy and did not communicate much. “But today they are gaining confidence and communicating well with anyone.”

Pema Thinley, 12, from Sakteng Lower Secondary School said that the programme was helping him and other participants to be independent, a responsible citizen, and to be a good businessman.

By the end of the programme, the participants are expected to learn the rationale and processes for starting a business and understand various financial and business concepts with the best practices.

On the final day, the organisers would set up a fair to help the participants gain experience in selling products.

The participants are given allowances and meals at the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) hostel where they stay. The programme will end on January 17, 2020.

A programme to groom future businesspersons

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