REPORT ON EU SWITCH-ASIA PROGRAMME-SHINE PROJECT’S
E-COMMERCE TRAINING IN TRASHIGANG & PEMAGATSHEL DISTRICTS
Thimphu, Bhutan- Funded by the EU SWITCH- Asia Programme, the SHINE (Sustainable Hospitality Industry Inclusive of Native Entrepreneurs) project conducted two series of two-day e-commerce training in Trashigang, 12th-13th October at DYT Hall (District Development Assembly) and in Pemagatshel, 16th-17th October at Shumar Geog’s GYT (Block Development Assembly) with coordination and support from the districts and local governments respectively. 120 rural producers of agri- & handicrafts products as well as tourism packages and accommodations learned how to effectively use the mobile app and website, which the SHINE project developed to facilitate marketing and sales.
The different target groups along the value chain, including individual farmers, farmers’ groups, cooperatives, handicraft producers, non-timber forest products collectors, homestay owners, and hotel proprietors, were invited. The broad range of stakeholders, who add values along the tourism supply chain, was empowered. 63 participants (30 male and 33 female) from 15 Gewogs of Trashigang district and 57 participants (27 males and 30 female) from 7 Gewogs of Pemagatshel district took part in the training.
The program provided the participants with the basic knowledge related to e-commerce and the use of online tools, as well as the practical information, such as the vendor registration process, using the vendor dashboard, applying for vendor account, uploading product information and images, setting prices and activating products, fulfillment and customer interaction, advanced features and community engagement, promotions, and more. In addition, the participants were also equipped with a number of tips to take effective and attractive photographs of their products and facilities, such as choosing proper background, lighting and angles. The SHINE team has also created an online messaging group per district to share more guidelines and assist the participants in future.
Throughout this training course the project team observed great deal of interest and enthusiasm among the participants, looking forward to the official launch of the e-commerce platform of the SHINE project in Bhutan, which will facilitate proactive marketing and sales of their farming yields, dairy or poultry, handicrafts, textiles and tourism related services. The e-commerce platform meets the need of an online channel with the enhanced possibility to reach out mainstream consumers. As emphasized by the Shumar Gup (local leader), keeping abreast with the changing dynamics of business and consumer preferences is important in the modern world. The SHINE tools are in line with the digitalization, which is equally open to the rural producers.
Tshering Dorji from Shumar Gewog in Pemagatshel, a graduate from Jigme Namgyal Engineering College who returned to his village to help and take care of his parents’ farming business, “ the SHINE e-commerce would definitely give us a formal digital platform to help us trade conveniently, including the payments. I would help my friends and community by educating about the SHINE e-commerce platform.”
The closing session of the training program in Trashigang was attended by the Economic Development and Marketing Officer (EDMO). The EDMO underscored the importance of product packaging and branding, which contributes to the success of online businesses. The training program was concluded by Dasho Dzongdha (District Governor), reiterating the His Majesty’s vision to qualify Bhutan from a Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by 2030 and sharing his aspirations of organizing an Annual Rhododendron Festival in Merak, in Trashigang to attract tourists to the eastern regions of Bhutan given the tourism disparities compared to western Bhutan.
Pema Dorji, 36 years old from Merak, Trashigang shared his thoughts, “in our community there are cuisines and textile products not only unique to other regions of Bhutan but also to the whole world. SHINE digital platform will give us an opportunity to showcase the distinctive culture of Merak and Sakteng which would be core attraction of tourism in the eastern Bhutan.”