Dr. Crins obtained her PhD on Gender and Sustainability in Bhutan in 2008. She later founded the Learning Exchange Foundation in 2009 with the aim to start a social enterprise in Bhutan. In 2015 she opened the door of the Bongde Institute for hotel and tourism in Bhutan. Since then hundreds of youth have been trained and found jobs.
At this year’s forum, Dr. Crins will be conducting a workshop named, “Impact Investing in Education: Case Study of a Social Enterprise in an Emerging Market”. She will be reflecting on her experience building a social enterprise in Bhutan, using it as an example of successful impact investing in education.
Dr. Crins, we are excited to be welcoming you at the Youth Global Forum and having you share some insight into impact investing’s potential in developing education. Please share with us a short introduction about yourself and your ethos.
I am an anthropologist and I have been working in Bhutan for more than 25 years. The first 20 years I did projects as an academic but in 2009 I started an impact project (although, the word impact did not exist back then) in Bhutan. It came to me in an organic way. I was guiding tours in Bhutan and I knew that tourism was the second most important economic sector in the country to gain revenue. This sector was growing, but there was so little knowledge about hospitality. Many small hotels came up, but the service and know how was very bad. Next to this there was an issue with huge youth unemployment. My local partners who I worked with owned a travel agency and were keen to build a hotel on a beautiful plot of land, but they did not know how to do it. They asked me if I was interested in helping them to develop the project. I told them that it would be grand to build a green hotel and culturally authentic hotel with an adjacent hotel-school to train young Bhutanese in hospitality. I have set up a for-profit business and a foundation for the non profit hotel-school. I thought it would be better to have the two entities separated. This would be better for the fundraising.
What is it about the Youth Global Forum 2018 that interests you most and how does the theme of the event align with your own interests and experiences?
Our hope is that the young people are aware of what is going on in the world. You can set up good businesses, but it is far better if these businesses are not only present to maximize growth. We see what is going on in the world. We have to go back to a different economy in which all people can participate, in which we can share and my experience is that many young people want to go that way. They want to help their communities. It’s not only about them. I love the work that the Youth Global Forum does and we need this more than ever.
Without giving too much away, what are the main areas of focus that your workshop on “Impact Investing in Education: Case Study of a Social Enterprise in an Emerging Market” will touch upon?
The challenges, hardship and unexpected results.
Your work in Bhutan demonstrates that there is a lot of potential for impact investors in emerging markets – specifically in education. What will your workshop teach participants who wish to emulate your success?
I can give them some insight into what can go wrong, the hardships that were faced and what you have to do in order to make it a success. Projects like mine are needed almost everywhere in the world, both in city centers and rural areas.
Photos: From archive of Dr. Crins