Global Shapers Thimphu Hub - Empowering the youths in Bhutan


The Global Shapers Community is ‘a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change.’ Young people united by common values form Global Shaper Hubs in their communities to design and implement community projects.

Nguldum project podcast one episode

The Global Shapers HQ in Geneva contacted Ms Thinley Choden, the founding curator to apply for creation of the first Shapers Hub in Thimphu. After its first monthly meeting in March, Global Shapers Thimphu Hub (GSTH) was formally instituted in March 2020 in Bhutan. 

Global Shapers Thimphu Hub monthly meeting

 “Bhutan is such a young country demographically. There is this thing of youth being the force for the future. You don’t get it without working with them and giving them the space. My interest for the Hub was driven by the impetus of providing that platform to use individual energy and passion for collective action and good. Global Shapers is a youth initiative under the World Economic Forum and provides this empowered global presence and voice and I believe it’s very important for Bhutan that we engage actively in it. Be it in thought leadership, solution building or even designing and implementing projects that may be replicated elsewhere,” she said.

A year into its inception and existence, GSTH has 22 members from diverse backgrounds brought together solely by their passion to work on community projects. Membership to the Hub is voluntary, but are required to apply formally and then sit through a selection process where they are interviewed by a panel. Once selected, they are put on probation for four months before finally becoming a Shaper with a profile on TopLink. 

With ELC Student for College & Career Readiness Workshop

Shapers are required to be in the age bracket of 18 to 28 years at the time of nomination and most have day job or university commitments. The Hub charter requires that each member attend a minimum of 70% of Global Shapers monthly meetings every six-month making a test of time management. 

“As a working professional, we do have to manage our time and effort a lot. However, given that a lot of the activities and programs happen in smaller groups within the GS Hub, it allows for better bonding and collaboration. And when you are bogged down with professional work, your teammates are always ready to help you and pick up the slack,” said Mr Phuntsho Norbu, a Shaper.

The members also take on roles of Curator, Vice Curator, Impact Officer, Treasurer and Communication Officer in addition to individual projects for the smooth functioning of the Hub. The positions are filled in through Hub Elections. 

"The greatest benefit I receive from being part of the Hub is that I meet and learn from people of diverse backgrounds. They of course, not only care about global issues and translating them to local contexts and vice versa, but also bring a diversity of perspectives due to their backgrounds," said Ms Namgay Choden, a Shaper and the Impact Officer of GSTH.

Weekend activity with Halfway Home (Save the Children)

In addition to multiple voluntary activities and initiatives in the making, GSTH has three well-known projects that meet qualifications and vetting process of Global Shapers HQ: 1) A College and Career Readiness Workshop Project to prepare high school students for college, 2) Nguldumb - a financial literacy through online campaign and podcast and 3). Her Health – an online campaign on reproductive health. 

Mushrooming of informal youth volunteer groups around the globe with relatively lesser significant impacts, volunteerism and social activism is now looked with cynicism.

Talking about how GSTH hold its ground, “I have a different view. Irrespective of meeting the desired impact expected just to see many youth groups is encouraging. It only means more opportunities to focus on the power of youth to self-organize locally for solution building towards local or influencing on global platform. For GSTH, we are not only accountable to each other but we are also accountable to our larger shapers’ network. Thimphu Hub is the first Hub and the shapers the founding members. So we have to make sure that it works. We ensure it with regular check in through shapers commitments and monthly meetings,” Ms Thinley Said.

A fairly new Hub formed during the COVID-19 situation has deterred the projects from reaching their full potential. GSTH in 2021 hopes to work more at the grass root level in the community collaborating with relevant partners and stakeholders. Relevant to the time, the Hub has ‘Davos Lab – Building Our Future’ as one major project in 2021. 

COVID-19 pandemic is a shared human experience globally regardless of where we are. Of rethinking how ‘we can build better’ is to be a big part of the Hub project. Bhutan’s insights in the global space is rarely heard of because we are usually either overshadowed due to its size or deemed not relevant owing to experiences being very different. With this project, GSTH hopes to fit into a global movement. 

Find out more about Global Shapers Thimphu Hub here

Virtual meeting during the lockdown

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