10 startups win grant support to scale up their businesses

The grant award comes five months after the ten entrepreneurs along with 26 others embarked on Springboard Plus journey, a startup support programme dedicated to empowering young social entrepreneurs.

June 3, 2023

Melam, 27, who runs a plant nursery bagged the first position.

UNDP Bhutan/Phuntsho Namgay

On Wednesday, 31 May 2023, 18 startups pitched their business scaleup plans in front of a panel of four judges at the Startup Centre in Changzamtog, Thimphu. They were selected from among the 36 entrepreneurs who took part in the Springboard Plus programme 2023. 

The top ten bagged grant support ranging from Nu.200,000 to Nu.300,000 to scale up their startups. They were awarded the grant today at an event graced by Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE).

Melam Zangmo, who runs a plant nursery called Kith-Tshel Garden took the first spot. 

“I am glad that I won the prize apart from gaining immense knowledge and insights on entrepreneurship through the Springboard programme. With this grant, I want to expand my business by including new varieties of plants and making our service accessible. I will do my best to become an exemplary entrepreneur,” Melam said. 

Left to right: Roshan Chhetri, Gyelrab Analytics, Khurshid Alam, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Employment and Melam, Kith-Tshel Garden

UNDP Bhutan/Phuntsho Namgay

Roshan Chhetri, Gyelrab Analytics took the second place. “Through the six-month Springboard Plus 2023 journey, I have come to realize the power of entrepreneurship to bring positive change in our society. The journey has been transformative and has shaped us into resilient, innovative, and socially responsible entrepreneurs. I am filled with immense gratitude for this remarkable experience and the incredible networking opportunity,” he said 

The Springboard Programme is a startup support platform of UNDP’s regional youth office Youth Co:Lab based in Bangkok. The programme in Bhutan was led by the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE) in partnership with UNDP Bhutan and Loden Foundation. 

Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Employment

UNDP Bhutan/Phuntsho Namgay

“The Royal Government of Bhutan has long recognized the crucial function that CSIs and startups play in fostering job growth, diversifying the economy, and fostering innovation. The Springboard Plus programme is, in fact, a part of the collaborative effort of the ministry, UNDP and Loden Foundation to tackle the complex challenge of youth unemployment,” said Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Employment.

UNDP Bhutan Deputy Resident Representative Khurshid Alam emphasized that youth are not only the future, but they are also the present. “The Springboard programme is a critical support aimed at upskilling youth entrepreneurs, provide scale-up opportunities to startups and address challenges facing them. UNDP remains committed to supporting national efforts to foster a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem and contribute towards tackling the challenge of youth unemployment,” Mr. Alam said.  

36 young entrepreneurs took part in the 2023 Springboard Plus programme

UNDP Bhutan/Phuntsho Namgay

The Springboard Plus provided the entrepreneurs with skills development opportunities through mentoring, training on developing business operations fundraising, scaling, and skills building, knowledge exchange and networking, and sessions on accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative businesses.The programme also helped the startups to address their business operations and management challenges.  

The systems mapping of youth unemployment carried out by MoICE in partnership with UNDP showed a lack of skills and a missing middle challenge as one of the main barriers to employment. The Springboard Plus programme was designed to contribute towards tackling these challenges. 

Last year, MoICE and UNDP launched a report on workforce futures. It provides a 15-year outlook for workforce skills demand in the creative, agriculture, and digital sectors. The 2023 Springboard Plus Programme was aligned with the report’s findings to ensure greater impact and relevance. 

Additionally, this year, Loden Foundation, one of the key players in the entrepreneurship space, was brought on board. This helped expand the cohort size from 15 participants in 2022 to 36 participants in 2023. 

"The success of this collaboration is a testament to the power of partnerships and collective efforts in driving positive change. We express our profound gratitude to the partners for the invaluable collaboration opportunity,” said Kuenzang Choden, Officiating Executive Director, Loden Foundation.