Thimphu TechPark recruits employees despite COVID-19

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Thimphu TechPark Limited (TTPL), Bhutan’s first IT Park which started in May 2012 with two core mandates: attracting and facilitating Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies to lease commercial space within the 58,000 sq ft building, and managing and operating the Bhutan Innovation and Technology Center, continues to attract and recruit employees despite COVID-19.

The IT Park has employed over 600 Bhutanese youths since 2016.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Thimphu Techpark, Dr Tshering Cigay Dorji said as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world at the beginning of this year, one of the biggest concerns for the board and management of Thimphu TechPark was that it might affect the businesses of the FDI companies and force them to lay off employees in big numbers. 

However, instead of layoffs, three major employers at the IT Park, Scan Café Private Limited, and iMerit Technologies Private Limited, FDI companies with head office in the USA, and SELISE Bhutan Private Limited from Switzerland have recruited more people since the pandemic started.

According to a press release, Scan Café hired 10 regular employees in their photo-editing department, and another 50 people on a temporary contract to meet the increasing demand for their services over the approaching holiday season in the US. They may also hire a second batch of temporary employees in November 2020.

Operations Manager in Bhutan, Jagat Adhikari said, “Every year, Scan Café hires around 120-150 people during the holiday season on a temporary contract until the end of the year. Out of these, some are retained as regular employees after their temporary contract based on their performance and requirement in the company”. 

Further, he said Scan Café also hired around 70 people in March and April this year, but as the pandemic hit the US hard in May and June, they had to let go of 29 people in June. However, on the whole, the number of people recruited this year exceeds by far that number. “Today, Scan Café has 300 people under its payroll and plans to recruit more.”

Dr Tshering Cigay Dorji said in Bhutan, Scan Cafe started its operations in 2013 with only 22 employees and it soon scaled up and it alone employed around 500-600 Bhutanese youths at its peak in 2016 to 2018. 

“About 80% of Scan Café’s employees are women,” he said adding Scan Cafe also provides full financial support to working mothers to enroll their children in the daycare center located inside Thimphu TechPark.

 “We often get negative media coverage every time and we have to let go of some people due to the uncertainties and constraints of operating in a highly volatile business environment today. But the company does hire more people and give livelihood to some very vulnerable youth,” said Jagat Adhikari adding that they welcome ex-employees to join again when new opportunities arise, and some have indeed joined again.

iMerit Technologies also started its operations in Bhutan in 2019 with around 100 employees and by April of this year, they recruited 30 new employees amidst the COVID pandemic. Recently, the iMerit in Thimphu TechPark hired an additional seven people.

Dr Tshering Cigay Dorji said, “Even though the COVID pandemic has hit the world hard, the company not only employed youths, but also expanded SELISE Bhutan Private Limited which is a Swiss FDI company specializing in software developments.”

According to the Head of Business in Bhutan, Kesang Wangchuk, SELISE hired 18 people to date after the COVID pandemic and they are in the process of hiring five to six more. 

Moreover, he said that they had around 38 people around the beginning of this year and now they have 56 people; by the end of the year they expect to have 60 people.

“SELISE creates high-end professional jobs in software development for Bhutanese graduates,” he added.

Due to travel restrictions imposed by the COVID19, two new FDI companies: Paperless Private Limited from Bangladesh and Yalamanchili Intelligent Systems Private Limited from Singapore, which had planned to start operations from the first quarter of this year could not start its operations as planned. 

Dr Tshering Cigay Dorji said having achieved the desired results in the two core mandates of the IT Park, DHI, the owner of Thimphu TechPark, desired that the company should evolve further and transform itself into a fully-fledged information technology company in line with His Majesty’s vision of focusing on technologies for securing the future better.  He said, “TTPL created a new IT Services department and as of today, TTPL itself employs 62 people with plans to recruit more people soon.” In total, there are over 600 people working at IT Park today.

pic courtesy: Facebook

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu

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