PM asks CSI Startup Flagship Unit to redefine proposal on Autonomous Startup Center

As per the directives by the government, the CSI Startup Flagship Unit under Department of Cottage and Small Industry (DCSI) presented its modality on making it an Autonomous Startup Center. However, Lyonchhen asked them to redefine the proposal.

Its vision is to become a vibrant centre for excellence that is guided by the Gross National Happiness (GNH) values to nurture, enable and empower aspiring entrepreneurs to become self-reliant and successful.

They presented that its mission would be to provide a thriving one-stop-solution platform and to promote a culture that encourages the youth to become entrepreneurs.

Startup acceleration program, business incubation program, entrepreneurship curriculum development, capacity building of startups, security services, mentorship program, product launch events for startups and startup infrastructure are some of the components that they are focusing to transfer from CSI startup flagship.

An official said, “We would need Nu 150.87 million for three years for above mentioned components. For the operational of the center, the budget requirement that we have calculated is Nu 19.07 million per year. The budget will include operational cost, salary and board member fees.”

Infrastructure, marketing, access to financial and business services development are some of the services that they will provide.

Sustainability is a big problem for startup center and its only source of income is rental fees which comes around Nu 1.78 million in a year, the official said, adding that they are proposing for 100 percent financial subsidy from the government for at least for 10 years.

However, the official that there have been changes in the program due to COVID-19 situation and DCSI is mainly involved in information gathering across the nation these days. They have done product reprioritization.

The department looked mainly into what support do they need from the government including manpower requirement. For import substitution, they have prioritized eight essential products, like milk products, noodles, etc. They have intervened with RMA through the ministry. The startup concept itself is very new to Bhutan, said the official.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that in such situation they may not be able to do everything as it would difficult. “We have been talking on import substitution, however, it would be hard to implement. At this point of time, they should be able to tie over this period with a combination of CSI flagship, CSI bank and Agriculture focus. And subsequently we should benefit,” he added.

PM asked them to redefine the proposal. He also asked them to work thoroughly on the machineries management and common facilities. “If all the dots are not connected from a planning phase, and if all the potential problems are not considered, I feel the end result won’t be good,” Lyonchhen added.

If there is a market of a milk powder then there has to be sufficient source for milk, he said, adding that they are at cottage level, and to make it to commercial than they may have to get into commercial farming, he said.

He said, “We have to go large scale and then only, can we think of producing products that can be exported out.”

The deparment will present their final proposal in July 2020 after redefining it.

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