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Leveraging mentorship for startups to strengthen entrepreneurship ecosystem in Bhutan




Online, Zoom

Date & Time

28 April 2022

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About the event

Through the Resilient Mountain Solution (RMS) initiative, we are working with the Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DCSI), Bhutan to support its Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) Policy and to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Bhutan. The Startup and CSI flagship programme under DCSI focuses on capacity building and technical support to strengthen enterprise and entrepreneurship development in Bhutan.

Our RMS Initiative has been working with DCSI since 2018 to develop a mentorship programme to strengthen Bhutan’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. We partnered with Antarprerana Pvt. Ltd., an incubation hub, to foster cross-learning and share experiences and practices from Nepal to design and develop programmes for the DCSI.

ICIMOD, DCSI and Antarprerana are organizing this conference to create awareness on mentorship and to help develop formal mentorship programmes in Bhutan. The programme intends to build the capacity of existing entrepreneurs who aspire to become mentors. This programme will also provide recommendations to the Royal Government to develop a strong mentorship programme with experience sharing from national, regional, and international experts.



  • Understand the importance of business mentorship in a startup business
  • Foster a mentorship culture with potential mentors and mentees
  • Share and discuss the present trend and best practices in business mentorship at national and international level
  • Create a mentors’ community in Bhutan


Expected participants

The programme will bring together Bhutanese entrepreneurs, government officials, private sectors, national and international speakers, facilitators, mentors, and media in Bhutan.



Mentoring is an important aspect for business success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years, 45% with the first five, and 65% within the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. However, data also shows that 70% of the mentored businesses survive longer than five years.

In the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), developing entrepreneurship receives greater focus and attention than fostering mentorships. Most of the HKH countries are already investing considerably in entrepreneurship development since it is key in livelihood diversification and innovation, income, and employment generation, as well as a means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, formal business mentorship is yet to be mainstreamed in several countries. In countries like Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar, the mentoring culture is still at a nascent stage in terms of business development. Finding, assigning, and working together with a mentor as a long-term partnership is still a distant goal for many entrepreneurs. Hence, there is a need for formal mentorship programmes in order to ensure that entrepreneurs and their businesses continue to succeed.



Time (BTT) Programme Speakers/Resource persons
10:20–10:30 Registration Sabina Uprety, Programme Associate – Adaptation and Resilience Building, ICIMOD
10:30–10:35 Opening remarks Nand Kishor Agrawal, Regional Program Manager –Adaptation and Resilience Building, ICIMOD
10:35–10:45 Welcome remarks from ICIMOD Tashi Dorji, Programme Coordinator – Transboundary Landscapes, ICIMOD
10:45–10:55 Welcome remarks from DCSI Chief guest: Jamba Yeshi, Officiating Director General, DCSI
10:55–11:00 Programme overview Anu Joshi Shrestha, Rural enterprise, and value chain specialist – Livelihoods, ICIMOD
11:00–12:30 Panel Discussion: Strengthening mentorship ecosystem in Bhutan



Thinley Choden, Founder, Impact Bhutan

Ram Bdr Gurung, Founder, Startup First, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Rikesh Gurung, President, BAEyul & Founder and Managing Director, The Green Road & AB Ventures

Sonam Chophel, Founder & CEO, CSI Market

Pema Gyalpo, Founder, Organic Cleaning & Bathing Products

Moderator: Kesang Om, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Learning Solutions (ILS)



Barsha Rani Gurung, Knowledge Management and Communication Officer, ICIMOD

Ashim Shrestha, Programme Officer, Antarprerana

Anuska Shrestha, Programme Associate, Antarprerana

12:30–14:00 Panel Discussion: Bringing global perspectives and knowledge on mentorship in Bhutan


Pim de Bokx, Senior Expert, PUM Netherlands

Gerrit Jan Van ’t Veen, CEO, World Startup

Bahar Kumar, Director, Impact Hub

Emmanuel V Murray, Startup Mentor, Senior Advisor, Caspian Equity

Moderator: Anu Joshi Shrestha, ICIMOD


Barsha Rani Gurung, ICIMOD

Ashim Shrestha, Antarprerana

Anuska Shrestha, Antarprerana

14:00–14:05 Vote of thanks Tshering Dem, Chief, DCSI
14:05–14:15 Closing remarks Anu Joshi Shrestha, ICIMOD

Niraj Khanal, CEO & Co-Founder, Antarprerana