October 28, 2021

After a vigorous process of vetting proposals submitted by numerous civil society and community-based organizations, four project proposals have been selected for our Small Grants program this year. They include the Development of Katsho Eco Camp in Haa, the Development of an Entrepreneurial Curriculum for Children with Special needs, Diversification, and value addition of Dairy Products in two communities: Soe and Phobjikha. These projects were assessed through a feasibility study and are now ready to kick start in the coming weeks.

The Eco Camp

The Eco Camp is in the Katsho community in Haa. The pandemic sparked an opportunity for seven childhood friends to reunite and return to their village to start a business after being laid off from their work in the tourism industry. Having worked in the tourism industry for many years, the group strongly felt a need to provide a unique outdoor experience in Haa that would attract international tourists and cater to the locals. Setting up an eco-camp with tented camps, tour guides, and local Haa cuisines was the ideal business for the group. With their goal to make Haa the preferred destination in Bhutan, the group hopes to boost the local tourism industry. The group hopes the camp will also add employment opportunities and address the issue of rural-urban migration.

Khemdro Kuenphen Omgi Detshen (KKOD)

Khemdro Kuenphen Omgi Detshen (KKOD) is the only milk processing unit in Phobjikha valley. Led by 50 farmers, the Khemdro community aims to improve livelihoods by boosting income from dairy farming. During the summer, the dairy group receives an excess supply of milk which is often converted to local cheese and butter to fetch a higher value in the market. To diversify, the dairy group will introduce two additional products: ice cream and yogurt. These will be supplied to nearby schools and neighboring districts.

Soe Lanor Cooperative – One Cooperative One Product Development

Likewise, aligned to the government’s initiative to develop one product from each yak cooperative, we are also supporting one highland community in Soe to develop their Yak product with a better, hygienic processing and packaging facility. This project will develop “chugu” (soft cheese), popularly used in Bhutanese cuisines such as ‘ chugo ma-ngo‘ and rice porridge on special occasions. With a cheaper and abundant supply of imported cheese, these traditional soft cheese products are slowly being replaced by imported alternatives.

Moreover, due to the trade restriction from the pandemic across the borders, the highland communities have lost their market. The unsold products were either fed to their cattle or left to go rancid. Thus, this project aims to package the soft cheese and supply it to the local market and contribute to import substitution in a small way.

Draksho Entrepreneurship Curriculum

We will be adopting an inclusive entrepreneurship curriculum in partnership with Draktsho Vocational Training Center for Special Children and Youth. The existing curriculum trains our mainstream entrepreneurs in a duration of 1-2 weeks. For youth with special needs, we require the curriculum to be adapted, encompassing visual aids and more practical sessions for them to truly understand the concept of entrepreneurship. Only then will they be able to run and support their own businesses. This initiative will complement Draktsho’s goal to promote equal work opportunities for persons with special needs keeping in view the employment scenario for youth in Bhutan.