Jab-Chor, a platform for young Bhutanese entrepreneurs

Jab-Chor, platform launched in December 2018, is meant for young Bhutanese entrepreneurs to nurture and grow their business ideas through access to financing. The initiative is to encourage the venture based on trust and confidence supported by legally executed business partnership deed under the laws of the Bhutan.

The first series of Jab-Chor platform had five carefully screened and groomed business ideas presented to the investors for possible equity ownership. The business ideas included waste management and sanitary pad production among others.

The entrepreneurs went through training at the Thimphu TechPark Limited (TTPL), after which only five entrepreneurs or startups were selected. They were thought how to pitch their products in meetings with potential investors. Jab-Chor also complements the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) initiative. Various institutions are also involved in the initiative.

Although primary production related projects are eligible for 100 percent loan backed by insurance under PSL, other projects have a 70 percent loan to 30 percent equity ratio. It was said that despite great business ideas, young entrepreneurs, particularly startups, are faced with the challenge of early start up equity.

TTPL selects youth groups with potential ideas requiring startup fund. After which the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) provides a formal channel to coordinate the participation of investors through registration process. The company registry division facilitates with the contract terms, business rules and mediates for entrepreneurs with support of RMA legal team. Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan helps the entrepreneurs develop the offer document and carry out the evaluation process to select the startups for the business pitching session.

One of the entrepreneurs said that the pilot initiative has helped young entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and receive financial support from investors. He also said that although he received a certain percentage of funds, however, he needed to produce some equity. As a young entrepreneur, even to have Nu 5,000 is really difficult, to scale up the business, he added.

Pema Chozom started with the production of sanitary pads to raise awareness, reduce import of the napkins, and to create employment. She manufactured the first sanitary pads in Bhutan known as Cheychay.

Head Business Support Department of BCCI, Tenzin Wangchuk, said that in order to operate the season 3, BCCI has formed a steering committee members (SCM) consisting of Thimphu Tech Park, Loden Foundation, RENEW’s Micro Finance and Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan.

“The steering committee members will basically advice BCCI on how to go forward with the plan for seasons 3 and 4. According to the term, we can select at least 7 entrepreneurs, but since the previous seasons had 5 entrepreneurs, we have kept it as it is, looking at the viability of the business ideas, the entrepreneurs were selected by the SCM,” said Tenzin.

Tenzin also mentioned that Jab-Chor is not only for funding but also for capacity building and networking. The entrepreneurs are said to be well groomed by the BCCI and also groomed virtually by the entrepreneurs from the previous seasons. Season 3 has 5 entrepreneurs, with 2 from the service sector and 3 from manufacturing sector.

The difference in the past seasons and the seasons 3 and 4 is that BCCI has given the opportunity to 30 overseas Bhutanese as well, through virtual platform. The other difference is that there are products on display where the interested investors can authenticate the products.

BCCI invested Nu 4.5 million to host Jab-Chor Seasons 3 and 4.

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