Engaging Unemployed Bhutanese Youth to Work with Australian Small Businesses and Startups

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Lockdowns and restrictions can spark new ideas and partnerships helping local businesses flourish.

With a project underway in Sri Lanka, flights booked to the USA in March 2020 for SXSW in Austin, TX and a conference in Washington, a keynote planned for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Hannover, Germany for April 2020, and having to cancel the lot… it meant that international opportunities seemed out of reach.

And many local businesses had to rethink their expansion and export plans internationally, plus reimagine international partnerships.  But launching today is a collaboration between AB Ventures and Workforce BluePrint to engage unemployed youth in Bhutan, who will provide business and digital assistance services to Australian small businesses and startups, with the idea seeded during the pandemic. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted various industries.  Thus, we now need to switch to alternate career options that are still viable.  It has brought several industries to their knees.  With inevitable lockdowns and social distancing, we’ve seen job markets come to a standstill as people were forced to return to the country and businesses closed.

The country’s unemployment rate reached an all-time high at five per cent last year.  It is almost double the rate of unemployment recorded in 2019.  More than 16,000 out of over 300,000 economically active people actively seeking and available for work remained without work in 2020.  As the society at large tries to grapple with the extent of the impact, technology has in many ways emerged as the saviour”, says Rikesh Gurung, Founder and Managing Director, AB Ventures.

Australian and Bhutanese governments have long enjoyed warm and friendly relations since 2002 with the establishment of formal diplomatic relations.  This joint venture, creating a social business in Bhutan, will see digitally and economically viable jobs for the youths.  Workforce BluePrint and AB Ventures are aiming to develop and disseminate an entirely new paradigm and practice of collaboration networks of partnerships between private businesses working together to create a globally prosperous society.

“Bhutan has a very small local economy and high youth unemployment as many Bhutanese were called back to their country in 2020.  It is an amazing place, with lovely people who are keen to work, encouraging economic growth and youth entrepreneurship.  The idea to work together was sparked by seeing many Australian business owners needing to cost effectively outsource tasks both during and post lockdowns, with the added benefits of supporting a developing country and young people to build skills”, Wendy Perry, Managing Director, Workforce BluePrint, explains.

This new partnership builds upon collaboration between Australia and Bhutan, where one of the very first overseas programs that Wendy Perry was involved in, alongside colleagues from QUT, was run in Thimphu, Bhutan in early 2013.

AB Ventures is a new customer interaction service centre based in Thimphu with a goal to provide employment to the Bhutanese youths to engage meaningfully and contribute to nation-building.

“Having received more than 700 applications, the team at AB Ventures have spent day and night going through all profiles to ensure that everyone was being seen and heard.  From the pool, 60 candidates were shortlisted based on their delivery as seen in their resume and called for the next round of evaluation to get to a group that will undertake specific training, including working with Australian businesses.  Expressions of interest are sought from Australian startups and small medium enterprises that would like to pilot the service,” says Rikesh Gurung, Founder and Managing Director, AB Ventures.

For further information and to express interest in the free trial digital outsourcing service, please contact Wendy Perry, Managing Director, Workforce BluePrint via wendy@workforceblueprint.com.au, thank you.

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