The Prosperous Paperman
‘I am from Jigme, formerly known as Lotokuchu A. The community members have a strong bond with the land. I remember Her Majesty suggesting we shift our settlement to Sibsoo as our land was not suitable for the best agricultural practice. But the people did not want to move as we did not wish to abandon our motherland and our homes. I had a very conservative and protected upbringing, my grandparents would scare me with made-up stories of other ethnic groups to dissuade my intentions to join the school as well as the military.
Growing up I looked after the cattle and did household chores. I have six children. The eldest is an engineer at Trongsa, while the youngest is studying at Sengdhyen Lower Secondary School in grade 8. I feel very sorry for my children as I could not provide them with the best intellectual guidance and financial support.
I was not allowed to improve my livelihood with a formal education or a set career. My life has started to improve in the last three years after I took over the operations of the Tarayana Desho Paper Factory. The factory was initiated in 2005, with a community-based setup where everyone
worked together, and earned together.
This approach wasn’t effective as some members weren’t as punctual and committed to the factory as others. In 2018 I took the initiative to lease the factory and produce Desho paper. The Desho Paper factory under my leadership has been operational for over two years until the pandemic. While functional it has benefited the community as well.
I employed about four individuals for the duration. After almost two decades of working in Desho paper production, I am very confident about making Desho paper. The only issue we have is the procuring of chemicals and production materials which takes a lot of time as the village is a bit isolated. We extract the Desho wood from Tading and faraway places which takes some time.
I used to earn about forty to fifty thousand in profit as the extra Desho papers were procured by Tarayana. But recently as Tarayana Foundation stop procuring the papers, I am struggling to market and sell the Desho papers. We produced over 10,000 sheets of paper per year with each sheet taking about 15 minutes to be produced. We sell a sheet of paper at Nu. 30. I have received support from the community as well.
The community members bring trunkfuls of Desho wood when requested. The debts I took when I took the initiative of the factory was paid in the first few months. I feel I have contributed to the community with the Desho Paper Factory. I have hired four community members with a monthly salary of Nu. 8,000 during the functioning of the factory.
After we determine our market and consumer, we will resume production. I am looking to network and supply Desho paper to handicraft shops in Thimphu and Paro. With a lack of exposure to technology, I am struggling to expand my business online. I also plan to diversify the products by producing Desho paper books, envelopes, and cards. If the demand for our Desho paper products increases, I will increase the production capacity of the factory by installing more machines and employing more people.
I have never attended any entrepreneurial or business workshops or training.
I would be grateful if Tarayana Foundation and related agencies could support me in this regard as I have to look after the well-being of my employees and their families. I have taken up operations of the factory with no idea or concept of the current market or network. Regardless I feel very confident about my small success which has motivated me to serve the community with more energy and enthusiasm. Despite not receiving
formal schooling, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and work in the business field. I have been doing business as early as eighteen by selling oranges and ginger. Now I have started a poultry farm and a pig sty. I have a yearly income of Nu. 200,000 which I invest in my children’s education and upbringing.
I have noticed I have inspired a few youths to take an interest in entrepreneurial activities in the village. I am very receptive to their ideas and have constantly advised them to work for the improvement and growth of the community. I remind them to not be greedy and consumed by personal glory. I believe the ideal business
model operates without loss or extreme profit. I feel that to live a happy and
peaceful life, we should not steal and harm other people, should not indulge in harmful substances, and always look to work to benefit the general community.’