REC@NNECT built entrepreneurial ecosystems across South and Central Asia by identifying and supporting promising entrepreneurs through competitions, skills development, networking within the global entrepreneurial community, and interactive mentorship.
Eligible countries include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Between 2011-2015 the Reconnect Initiative was funded by US Department of State and implemented by CRDF Global. Ovidiu Bujorean was Senior Innovation Manager with CRDF Global.
Country Case Study: Bhutan
REC@NNECT in Bhutan
Following the three-day REC@NNECT Challenge event in Nepal, the REC@NNECT team, along with Augie Rakow, Corporate Lawyer for Startups at Orrick, and Andreas Ehn, Former CTO of Spotify and Co-Founder of Wrapp, headed to Bhutan for a country visit. The Bhutan trip entailed meetings with key partners and stakeholders, entrepreneurship training, and mentorship activities. The two on-the-ground partners for the events were The Loden Foundation and Thimphu Tech Park. Highlights of the visit were:
- ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRAINING: REC@NNECT hosted an entrepreneurship training in collaboration with Thimphu Tech Park, the first IT Technology Park in the country, and Bhutan Innovation and Technology Centre (BITC). Over 60 local entrepreneurs attended to hear Andreas and Augie speak on a variety of topics including raising money for startups, the customer development process, and lean startup methodology. The participating entrepreneurs were all engaged, asking many questions.
- MENTOR DEVELOPMENT: REC@NNECT hosted a session with The Loden Foundation Bhutanese mentors and experts. The meeting provided Bhutanese mentors with an overview of the mentorship process, as well as tips to strengthen their mentorship skills. There were representatives from universities, for-profits, and investment companies, such as Druk Holding and Investments Ltd. The mentor training was followed by a dinner where the local mentors networked with the Bhutanese entrepreneurs and a mentorship session where Bhutanese entrepreneurs were matched with local and international mentors.
- MEETING WITH MINISTER OF LABOR: REC@NNECT met with the Minister of Labor, Ngeema Sangay Tshempo. He expressed interest in working with REC@NNECT on future entrepreneurial activities, specifically in the sphere of agriculture, and the need for international experts and organizations to equip the Bhutanese innovators with the necessary skills for a successful entrepreneurial future.
- VISIT TO CNR: REC@NNECT visited the College of Natural Resources (CNR) in the Punakha region, which has over 500 students each semester working on agriculture, animal sciences, forestry, and sustainable development. The REC@NNECT delegation met with the Director General, Dorji Wangchuk. The topic of discussion was a partnership with REC@NNECT to plan an event at the college for entrepreneurs focused on sustainable development and agriculture.
REINFORCED BOND WITH LOCAL PARTNERS: REC@NNECT had an in-depth discussion with The Loden Foundation and Thimphu Tech Park on how to create and manage locally sustainable and effective entrepreneurship programs for talented local innovators. Thimphu Tech Park had previously hosted a REC@NNECT TechConnect viewing site and agreed to host another one. The Loden Foundation also agreed to host a viewing site for the upcoming TechConnect.