By Arundhuti Banerjee
Thimphu, Aug 24 (IANS) Pema Choden Tenzin, a young female entrepreneur and the founder of Bhutan’s only women’s magazine, says that slowly but surely the scenario is changing and the government is quite encouraging towards the start-up business and also gives financial support if there is a proper revenue model.
“While there is a buzz around it now, it is also important for the youngsters to understand that the government will only support a micro-business if it serves their interest as well. That is why entrepreneurs need to have a financial/revenue model when planning to start a business,” Tenzin told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the ‘Mountain Echoes 2019’ literary festival, on being asked if entrepreneurs get government support.
“They should know how to write a proposal to the government for support. Such financial planning and education is important if someone wants to look at entrepreneurship seriously,” she added.
Tenzin spoke after attending an interactive session along with Kinley Wangchuk, a member of the Bhutanese National Assembly, and businessman Namgyel Dorji, titled ‘Startup Stories: The Power of Dreams’.
The Mountain Echoes festival of arts, literature and culture completed a decade this year. It is organised by the India-Bhutan Foundation and is graced by the royal patron, Bhutan’s Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
Growing up in Bhutan, like many others, Tenzin’s parents also wanted her to aspire for a government job.
“My father is very conservative and he wanted me to prepare for the Royal Civil Service exam so that I can get a job. But I wanted to start something of my own and when I started the ‘Yeewong’ magazine, I realised it was my true calling. I knew that I would have to struggle but I did it. My father did not speak to me for a month,” Tenzin explained.
The magazine is celebrating 10 years of its journey and the company has transitioned to an online content marketing brand – Yeewong Media. Tenzin also creates food and travel videos. The company has launched a food website – zhimmey.com – that recommends various places to eat at and explore in Bhutan.
Being an owner of a media company and constantly writing on lifestyle, celebrities and a lover of cinema, she said that during her growing up years, like any other children in Bhutan, she was highly influenced by Bollywood films.
“I was a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan and would watch ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Dil Se’ and other films many times. I think now my choice of films has changed and so have the actors.”
“I think Abhay Deol is one of the talented yet underrated actors. I like Farhan Akhtar and Ayushmann Khurrana, among others, who are bringing us some new stories that are more meaningful than potboilers,” said Tenzin, pointing out that Bhutanese cinema is also highly influenced by Bollywood.
“It can be so interesting if a story is told from a Bhutanese point of view…something that is original. The new age Bhutanese filmmakers are attempting to do that, which is great,” she said, adding that getting influenced by India and its culture is very positive and can build friendship between the two nations.
In last few years, she said, the Bhutanese film industry has seen much change and found a new language. “Travellers and Magicians” was the first Bhutanese feature film that was shot in the country. In 2011, a short film titled “The Holder” was screened at Cannes and also travelled to several festivals. Earlier this year, “The Red Phallus”, directed by Tashi Gyeltshen, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.
“When a film goes to international film festivals from a small country like Bhutan, we not only feel proud but show to the world who we are, what our culture is. Our films should reflect our society,” Tenzin concluded.
(Arundhuti Banerjee is in Thimphu at the invitation of the organisers of Mountain Echoes. She can be contacted at [email protected])