Empowering Rural Entrepreneurs: Chimme’s Success Story

In the quiet, predawn hours of Tang, Bhutan, while most are still wrapped in slumber, Chimme is already on the move. With determination etched into his every step, he navigates the winding roads, his trusted bolero weaving through the sleepy villages. His mission? To collect fresh milk from local residents, a routine he’s faithfully upheld for over a decade.

By the time the sun begins its ascent, Chimme’s efforts bear fruit. With around 650 litres of milk secured by 9 am, his dedication sets the tone for a day filled with promise. But Chimme’s journey to success wasn’t paved with ease; it was built on resilience and the unwavering support of his community.

In his youth, Chimme’s path diverged from traditional schooling when his father received assistance from Helvetas Bhutan to establish a milk-processing unit (MPU) in Tralang, Bumthang. Sensing an opportunity to carve his own destiny, Chimme delved into entrepreneurship, channeling his energy into the family venture. Today, at 32, he reflects on his journey with pride, considering his business a testament to hard work and determination.

Situated just a few kilometers from the Tang Gewog Office, Chimme’s processing unit hums with activity throughout the day. Initially focused on cheese and butter production, the business pivoted towards chugo (hardened cheese) in 2018, a move that proved fortuitous, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

Chimme’s success has not only transformed his own life but has also become a beacon of hope for his community. Through his MPU, he provides a vital market for villagers seeking to sell their milk, fostering economic stability and empowerment at the grassroots level.

The impact of Chimme’s endeavor is palpable. The Wobthang Community Farm, alongside 54 households, contributes to the MPU’s daily milk supply, forming the backbone of its operations. However, seasonal fluctuations pose a challenge, with winter seeing a decline in milk production—a hurdle Chimme navigates with characteristic resolve.

Undeterred by obstacles, Chimme’s ambitions soar. His weekly deliveries of chugo to Thimphu, each string meticulously crafted and transported, underscore his entrepreneurial spirit. Yet, amidst his aspirations to expand into cheese production, he faces the stark reality of navigating grant support in a rural setting.

For suppliers like Tshomo and Norlha, Chimme’s initiative offers more than just a source of income; it represents a lifeline for rural livelihoods. Their testimonies echo the sentiments of countless farmers, highlighting the importance of local infrastructure and timely support from relevant agencies.

As Chimme’s story continues to unfold, it serves as a testament to the transformative power of grassroots entrepreneurship. Through perseverance, innovation, and community collaboration, he stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a brighter future for rural Bhutan.

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