The Government of Sikkim has been actively promoting skilling for employability and creating an entrepreneurship and livelihood friendly environment in the State. It has taken steps towards investing in the State’s demographic potential by assessing the aspirations of its youth and creating opportunities in the key sector of agriculture, agri based industries, tourism based industries and industries around local resources assets and collective artisans.
The aim is to high pace the economic growth, bridging gaps in inclusive productive markets emerging from the rural livelihood sectors particularly self help groups.
In this connection the government has started efforts since 2000 and declared creation of livelihood schools across the State. In 2002 the government started its endeavour of organic farming which was completed with the State declared fully organic in January 2016.
In 2012 the State started exclusive entrepreneurship promotion. Under TotalStart in the North East States the TotalStart Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Developers Sikkim Unit’s Operation was kick-started in January 2012 with its first incubation centre at STPI Gangtok.
The initial focus was to create technology based start-ups which could be scalable. The mode in which these technology start-ups were created were through 100% investments from TotalStart with 20% – 30% non-diluting shareholding of the co-founding employees of the company. In 2012 and 2013 three start-ups were created in the above mode of deploying co-founding employees to kick-start a start-up.
With an intent to penetrate the entrepreneurship to the key industries of agriculture tourism and handicrafts the government aggregated the young entrepreneurs of the State.
A Chief Minister’s Startup Scheme (CMSS) 2017 was launched for promoting entrepreneurship in the state. Under the scheme, unemployed youth of Sikkim can avail assistance from the state government in setting their start-up. The scheme aims to provide 35% financial assistance.
Within the overarching concept of the Start up India the Government of Sikkim also started the Entrepreneurship Hub in March 2018.
Targeting the young budding Entrepreneurs of Sikkim, the hub is a unique concept run by the entrepreneurs themselves. Mentorship programmes and entrepreneurial incentives characterise the platform.
While at least 2000 youth have already benefited from the CMSS; 500 have availed of the benefit. The state is geared up with its youth making a head-start and receiving the required impetus from the overall vision of the Government of Sikkim.
Taking advantage of the growing wave of organic agro produce and value based agro produce two youngsters from Sikkim Abhimanyu and Abhinandan Dhakal, owners of Shoten group, have introduced Yacon Syrup, extracted from Yacon tubers, under the Brand 'Earthier'
Yacon syrup is a natural sweetener which is diabetic friendly, aids intestinal health and aids in preventing life-
Inspired by the Sikkim Organic Mission, Earthier is a brand that inspires and empowers its customers on the environmental and health benefits of every product at sells.
Earthier aims to inspire and empower their customers (believers) to adopt its products based on the health and environmental benefits it offers.
In their own words "Our products are organically grown, minimally processed and without preservatives that help you enjoy its natural goodness with positive effects on your health. We are thankful to the Government of Sikkim for the vision of implementing the organic farming eco-system and giving brand visibility to Sikkim. As an entrepreneur of Sikkim, we hope to add to the milestones that our state is achieving now and in coming times."
Meanwhile Ms. Priya Dahal the proprietor of Beautiful Earth, the natural soaps from Sikkim, is yet another feather in the cap of the entrepreneurship model in the State. While Shoten group used grower engagement model, Priya engaged rural women from her village who were semi literate and wanted a source of livelihood.
While Priya had already decided to be a support system to the rural women whom she saw struggling to save money owing to poor education poor access to resource and poor awareness on government based employment schemes; she benefited with the recognition from the government and is now one of the key members in the entrepreneurship hub.
Till date she has not availed any loan and she stands tall as a youth who has her own reckoning.
“All along one thing that kept us afloat and that was Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s vision of making Sikkim self-reliant. We wanted to be a part of his mission of transforming Sikkim into a producer state,” Priya says proudly.
Tenzing and Sonam are other two budding and successful entrepreneurs who launched the brand "Sikkimis" and "La" respectively.
Understanding the growing tourism market and the absence of authentic contemporary local products, Tenzing nyentsey, founder of Tapestree Pvt Ltd., started manufacturing and retailing contemporary travel gifts under the brand Sikkimis.
Sikkimis designs and creates products with a fusion of traditional techniques and contemporary modern aesthetic. They collaborate with family run enterprises and self help groups in sourcing their product. The venture was selected for the IIM Calcutta innovation park for its Accelerator programme and is now scaling its business to the other states of Assam and Meghalaya.
“The state has been really aggressive in creating a healthy start up ecosystem. From the ease to do business to the government being easily accessible and supportive, Sikkim could easily be the start up hub for the northeast of India and we will try our best to create a mark for our state in the business world map" is what Tenzing had to say on entrepreneurship.
Sonam on the other hand started its own product/a social enterprise called La which is focused in developing the creative industry in the Indian Himalayan Region starting with Sikkim. They are also a member of Export Promotional Council for Handicrafts.
La focuses on designing, producing products and developing services which are in context to the mountainous regions of India and the World. In 2015 Sonam started another enterprise called T in collaboration with Temi Tea, where the bamboo sector was integrated with the tea industry by using bamboo and the craft for packing tea from Temi. It won the CII Design Excellence Award for the best Industrial design for packing. In 2016, it started building capacities in the bamboo and cane sector through product development workshop with selected master artisans from four clusters Regu, Rhenok, Rongli and Dzongu. It represented Sikkim at the 2016 and 2017 India Handicraft Gift Fair organised by EPCH in Noida. La was also featured as one of the speakers for the first TEDx event held in Gangtok.
Sonam says “La is diversifying and working on the product ideas of
1. A geo-sensitive personal mobility device for mountainous regions.
2. Products catering to personal healthcare and wellbeing for mountainous regions.
3. Textile as a memory: Reviving the sheep wool occupation and handlooms in Lachen, North Sikkim.”