Opening Remark

              By

                              Dasho Sangay Khandu, Chairman, DHI

                       Better Business Summit March

                             26th – 28th, 2014

"Your Excellency Hon'ble Prime Minister, Hon'ble Ministers, dignitaries, special guests and distinguished participants. It is a great honor and privilege for Druk Holding & Investments to be co- organizing this Better Business Summit. As the investment arm of the government, we have a big role to play in the development of our economy and helping to improve business in Bhutan. And we are fortunate to have had the prescient wisdom of His Majesty the King in establishing DHI through the Royal Charter.

This Charter, which defines DHIs purpose and objectives, clearly recognizes the link between acceleration of socio-economic development to achieve the goals of Gross National Happiness and the desire to promote the competitiveness of Bhutan's economy. It mandates that we achieve this by transforming companies with government shareholding into highly efficient and productive companies that strive for excellence.

This concept is immensely profound, and presents a challenge that business and corporations around the world are facing: How successful companies and a competitive economy accelerate the socio-economic development of nations?

Of these three parts: companies, economics and development, DHI's domain lies mainly in the first. However, as it strives for efficiency, productivity and excellence through its companies, there is a clear link to economic growth and the development of our nation.

When it comes to measuring growth and being a competitive nation, benchmarking is an important first step. Last year, for the first time, Bhutan was listed in the World Economic Forum's Global Competiveness Report, where we ranked 109 out of 148 countries. DHI,in partnership with BCCI, played a pivotal role in surveying nearly 100 business leaders using an executive opinion survey model developed by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

In this case, the idea of taking part in the survey started at DHI, but could not have succeeded without support of other stakeholders like the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the BCCI. DHI has supported BCCI in the past, and will continue to do so in the future as part of its commitment to private sector development.

By taking a holistic view of the nation and its socio-economic situation, one can see the clear links between the growth of the private sector and the growth of the nation. The message is simple: when entrepreneurs succeed, the nation succeeds. Because of this, we have a strong commitment to private sector development and in particular to the nurturing and growth of entrepreneurs.

While entrepreneurship comes with inherent risks and challenges, we seek to reduce these by training entrepreneurs through the Bhutan Entrepreneurship Growth and Innovation (BEGIN) training program, providing them with experienced mentors, and also providing venture capital funding. DHI provides this training and mentoring free of cost for the entrepreneurs. At DHI we recognize that our business will benefit in the long run by having more entrepreneurs and more new businesses. These are our future suppliers, partners and clients, and we are making an investment in their future as well.

But there is more to be done.When asked what the hurdles are, to success, most business leaders in Bhutan highlight access to finance. As a holding and investment company, we recognize that we have an opportunity and an obligation to help.

Sources of credit in Bhutan are few, and more businesses rely on banks in Bhutan than in any other country in the region. DHI is currently thinking about setting up a non-banking financing corporation to help finance larger projects and DHI has a Private Sector Partnership program to enable DHI to provide equity investments and form partnership with the private sector. With these we should be able to help catalyse the next generation of financing in Bhutan.

In order for programs like this to be successful, we need policies that support business and new ideas. Over the past few years we have engaged with our ministries and various agencies to explore where the future lies for our economic growth. We see this collaboration across sectors as critical to our success and to the nation's success. And that is what brings us here today.

On stage we have our Ministers, we have our Private Sector and we have our State-owned enterprises. In our midst we also have entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, international organisations and international experts. The significance that we are all here with the same objective of private sector development and sustainable growth is profound.

The Summit itself has been created by a unique partnership. At DHI we saw an opportunity to bring competitiveness on to the national stage, and through a partnership with BCCI and our colleagues at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Gross National Happiness Commission, this has become a reality with financing from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Many of the dialogues that will take place over the coming days are continuations of conversations and processes that are already underway. Others will be the start of something new. In both cases, we are excited about the prospects of working more closely with our partners from all parts of society. We are working towards the same goal of establishing a dynamic and strong economy to support a vibrant democracy.

When DHI's charter was issued in 2007, it called for collaboration between government ministries, DHI companies, the private sector and other stakeholders both within and outside the Kingdom of Bhutan. I was not at DHI 7 years ago, but I am very pleased to be welcoming all these stakeholders here today to start our journey to competitiveness through collaboration and promoting Better Business in Bhutan.

I look forward to the deliberations and discussions over the next few days. TashiDelek!"

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 06:17