First ever women’s startup held
Though it took some time for Bhutan to bring women startups into the limelight, the first ever women’s edition of Techstars startup weekend took place from November 23-25 last year.
Just after the Global Entrepreneur Week, which highlighted women as a catalyst for large-scale economic growth in every country, four youth: two entrepreneurs and two civil servants came together to organize the event.
Eighteen women from diverse backgrounds took part in the event, where they pitched business ideas, worked in teams and presented their models to the judges. It was also a platform for networking and building connections.
The best idea went to Team Wool Art and Craft Production for an affordable and creative souvenir made of wool. The idea focused on promoting and training local wool collectors.
Yeshi Choden from Team Wool Art and Craft said the idea is feasible and practical. “We need to have a good team with a conducive working environment.
The second prize was awarded to team Druk Naturals, aspiring to make cosmetic products out of natural ingredients like aloe vera while Team Nazhoen Sherig came third for their concept to create an e-learning platform for teachers and students. The platform would help teachers prepare lesson plans, results and attendance records and students can access teaching and learning materials online.
Tshetsho Wangdi from team Nazhoen Sherig said it was her first time participating in such an event and it inspired her a lot. “Women are capable,” she said.
No cash prizes were awarded but the participants were given the opportunity to meet mentors of their choice to develop their ideas and membership in innovative centers, and were given books on entrepreneurship.
Senior ICT Officer of Department of Information Technology from the information and communications ministry and an organizer, Deepika Rai said women participants transformed from being shy and reticent into confident, enterprising entrepreneurs within 54 hours. “During the weekend we have built a robust community who all believed in give first concept.”
Women were seen helping and encouraging women. Further there was a strong group of men calling themselves ‘We-Men’ supporting the growth of women.
Regional Manager of Asia-Pacific (South and Central Asia) Techstars Anurag Maloo shared on his Facebook about how wonderful and inspiring Bhutanese women (and wemen) have come together to build their dreams and future. “I am looking forward to empower the local community and build their capacity to become great entrepreneurs and promote “Made in Bhutan” to the rest of the world.”
Meanwhile, the 8th edition of startup weekend is organized to help and support women to become aspiring entrepreneurs. The program offered an experiential riskfree learning platform to explore potential individuals to be startups and aimed to promote entrepreneurship and innovation culture among women.
The women’s edition of Techstars startup was different considering its consistency and sustainability. The event was fully supported by the community: a volunteer group with crowd funding.
One of the organizers, Assistant Program Manager of Thimphu TechPark Ltd, Tshewang Dorji said the platform is free for the participants unlike other countries. “In the long run, the participants will be charged a nominal fee to cover the costs.”
Initially, 30 women registered for the event, however, only 20 turned up. Seven ideas were presented in the final round.