Given various reasons, some of the businesses which was initially started by the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) failed. They were trained for five months by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) while the UNDP and KOINCA supported them in establishing their businesses.
On the other hand, the PWDs who were trained in tailoring are fully engaged. And this has become encouraging for the rests of PWDs, whereby they started calling Disabled People’s Organization of Bhutan (DPOB) wanting to get the training.
It was learnt that PWDs are not suited to become entrepreneur as they do not have the soft skills necessary to get along. They were trained on tailoring, bakery and spa and massage.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of DPOB, Sonam Gyamtsho, said that though some of the businesses have failed, but for some, the program has somehow become a source of their sustainability.
He said, “This is the first of its kind for the PWDs, which is why issues, challenges and failure are expected to happen. And this is where, we can learn and better execute the program in our next try. That is how things will work.”
Globally, the PWDs are associated with poverty, whereby giving them just a training would not help them. They sought financial support from UNDP and KOICA in establishing a business and accordingly, they have supported in procuring equipment.
However, he said that, though they have started businesses with their support, it did not really succeed because PWDs working in a group is quite challenging. They are not able to come together to discuss, they are not able to mobilize the resources, and they are not able to produce the resources they need for their production. These are some of the issues faced by the PWDs running a business.
Citing as an example, he said, “During the pandemic, a group of PWDs started a candy production, which was labor intensive, and it was challenging for them to operate the machines as it was very heavy. This is the reason why it failed.”
They are, however, planning to restart the candy business by identifying another group, and tying them up with the post-harvest training to better handle the amount of fruits needed and the logistics required.
Another group has set up a commercial bakery in Motithang, however they could not pick-up the business, as expected, because of the high commuting costs. Given the high rental expenditure in the core town, most of the PWDs are staying in Kabisa, Thimphu, and they have to travel far distance between their workplace and their homes. The high commute cost has impacted the business.
He said, “This is why their businesses have failed. They can do (the business), if guided, and we are looking for ways to re-start their businesses. Letting them start individually is the best. They are meant to be employee and not an entrepreneur, at least for now.”
In the next training, the PWDs will be given soft skills training so that they can get along and build their capacity to become an entrepreneur.
No one was expecting success from the very first venture. Therefore, the challenges and lessons learnt from the first batch will help to steer the coming batches to favorable outcomes.
The support given by the government and other agencies to PWDs is invaluable in helping build an inclusive society. He also said that they will now try to be extra careful in choosing the programs and the candidates to make the training effective and sustainable.
Nevertheless, “We are happy to see some of the PWDs making their living more comfortable as they are at least earning through the tailoring. And there are PWDs employed in bakery shops. These, on the other hand, is success which motivate us,” he added.