As a young enterprising entrepreneur and a chocolatier from Gangtok, Sikkim, Sonam Choden Bhutia is making a dream through her passion and conviction. An adventurist who also loves travelling and meeting new people from different cultures and sharing ideas because “it teaches you a lot and I believe that there is no end to information and knowledge”, she said. She is fond of designing traditional ornaments and costumes and to venture out in experimenting and creating new things. Through her passion, it has helped many women to sustain their livelihood. Apart from being a business woman, Sonam Choden Bhutia is a social worker, who supports orphanage and destitute homes.
Since early days, Sonam always wanted to do something on her own whether big or small. However her parents being government servants had to shift from one place to another. It was difficult for her to always change places time and again, and then start the business afresh. On one occasion when she was at the age of ten, she understood and decided to venture out to build up her own business. Today she could proudly say, “Here I am today never looking back.”
In the year 2008 Sonam started her profession as a model till 2014. However she decided to turn her path towards entrepreneurship and started making Home-made chocolates and thus Taste buds was established. It was a massive success. However this did not stop her to venture out for new business. She opened a boutique with the label Norlah (A North Eastern traditional dress boutique). Subsequently in 2016 she started making flowers out of corn husks and other handcrafted stuff. She started teaching and giving training to unemployed women in the rural areas especially married women so that they can earn their livelihood and lead a self-sufficient life.
This is what Sonam had to say about her business
I started my ventured into the line of entrepreneurship through a small unit called Taste Buds Sikkim Home Made Chocolates since September 2014. Making chocolates was a fortunate accident for me because I never dreamt that one day I will be making chocolates and also sell them as well with my own brand name on it. After christening my home made chocolates as taste bud, there was competition in front of me as I was not the only one with homemade chocolate. There were other groups who were into homemade chocolates as well. However I realized that I can do much better for the reason that my homemade chocolate is the only homemade chocolate running successfully. I participated in a chocolate making training workshop organized by North Eastern Development Finance Corporations Limited under the trainer Chandrani Sarmah from Assam and Avou Yeptho from Nagaland. Initially I took the training just for the sake of learning how to make chocolates but look at my destiny I am into it now. After the workshop I participated in Pang labsol festival at Rabangla, south Sikkim with the help of more than fifteen unemployed housewives. During the disbursement that was collected by selling my chocolates to the women after the festival was over, I realized at that point of time that I could be a channel of employment not only for myself but also for other women of my locality. But the path was not smooth. There were lots of challenges in front of me, especially during travelling because I had to carry huge quantity of chocolates with me to unknown far distant places. Being from very peaceful state with less population, I was not ready to face big cities with huge population. There was at times when there was communication problem. Since there were purely women in my business, we sometimes faced harassment. My business was not well flourished at that point of time, so I sometime faced losses. However I never get demotivated owing to the realization that if I give up then who will support the unemployed women who are working with me. So, because of them and for them I had to and want to work. Today Taste Buds has over 20 varieties of chocolates and gift hampers for various occasions along with cornhusk handicraft flowers and other handcrafted materials.
Benefits provided to the community as entrepreneur
For me entrepreneur was never about making money out of it. I do it because I love doing it and it’s my passion. With my chocolate venture around 15 young ladies of Northeast are associated which not only give them a source to earn their livelihood and support their family but a purpose in life. For my handicraft venture I did workshops around many villages and on boarded many housewives who have nothing to do in their free time. Teaching and giving training to them gives me a sense of satisfaction that one day it may change their lives and they can do something which they never thought they could. I believe no job is big or small if you really have passion and heart into it. Along with this I frequently visit schools and colleges in Northeast and Nepal and try to convey my ideas and my life journey to young minds so that they can start believing in themselves and chase their dreams. My mantra is “nothing is impossible if you are committed and work hard for it”.
Do you think Entrepreneurship is the answer to Unemployment?
Yes, I truly and humbly believe that Entrepreneurship if guided towards the right path and if properly channelized through the right policies and Government support can surely solve unemployment in the longer run.
A message you would like to put across to the young minds of our Northeast
My message to the young minds of the Northeast is to believe in yourself and in your dreams. Don’t get carried away towards bad things in life such as drug, alcohol and other vices which will hamper you and your family’s life. When you start something, make sure to finish it from the heart and you will definitely succeed in life. Keep smiling always.