Developing Community & Economic Self-Sufficiency

The Central Tibetan Administration is faced with the two principal tasks of rehabilitating newly-arrived refugees from Tibet and empowering the Tibetan community in exile. Despite building a successful refugee community, the exile Tibetan community today is confronted with several diverse and unique challenges that have the potential to fragment the long-established settlement life thereby threatening the long-term sustainability of the Tibetan culture and identity itself. Increasing demographic and overseas migration trends, scattered communities, inadequate employment opportunities, lack of income-generating activities and alternative source of livelihood in the settlements, have all given way to a new set of challenging scenario in the exile Tibetan community.

The Tibet Fund prioritizes strategic development programs that are aimed at revitalizing the Tibetan settlements and empowering the Tibetan community as a whole. In addition to alleviating poverty and deprivation through funding and programmatic support from the US government and our donors, we work to facilitate economic self-sufficiency through initiatives that promote entrepreneurship, small enterprise development, employment and job competitiveness of unemployed youth. We also support local grassroots Tibetan NGOs and civil society organizations to address local community priorities and also to reinforce their effectiveness in delivering socio-economic and welfare services.

Entrepreneurship Development

Recognizing the significant role that entrepreneurship plays in promoting financial empowerment and economic mobility in a society, The Tibet Fund encourages the growth of entrepreneurial ventures in the exile Tibetan community. Some program highlights in this area are:

  • Support from the US State Department helped the CTA to launch Tibetan Entrepreneurship Development (TED) in 2013 that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with business training, incubation and advisory services. Out of 750 participants, ten entrepreneurs were chosen to take part in start-up incubation and training at Jindal Institute and the JSS-STEP Incubator Center in Delhi.
  • Judith Mcbean Foundation enabled us to provide salaries for two full-time TED staff. They created a five-year business plan in collaboration with Intellecap, a reputed entrepreneurship consultancy in India.
  • We later co-supported the first Game Changer’s Conference organized by CTA’s TED where more than 100 entrepreneurs presented their business plans and winning enterprises received investment awards ranging from INR 100,000-400,000.
  • For the past few years, President Lobsang Nyandak has been on the panel of judges at Tibetan Innovation Challenge competition being held at the University of Rochester. MBA students from different universities compete to showcase Innovation Challengeself-sustaining and replicable business ideas that would improve the lives of Tibetans living in refugee settlements in India and promote innovation in social entrepreneurship.

Employment and Vocational Training

Unemployment and underutilization of Tibetan youth in the Tibetan communities are caused due to financial barriers, lack of employable skills and training infrastructures. To address this critical issue, The Tibet Fund has provided trainings in vocational and business skills to improve employability and livelihood opportunities. Program highlights in this area are:

  • Since 1990, The Tibet Fund has sponsored trainings in Tibetan thangka or traditional scroll painting and tailoring at TCV Bir Suja School in Dharamsala.
  • Support was also given for language and job skill training to newly-arrived Tibetan political prisoners who are under the care of CTA’s Department of Security.
  • 241 unemployed Tibetan youths received trainings in various job oriented courses in India and Nepal in 2014.
  • At the Institute for Small Trade Learning (ISTL) in Bangalore, 49 unemployed youth received skill training in cookery, computer skills and English language.
  • Apart from setting up beautician training facility at ISTL in 2005, we funded the purchase of computers, training equipments, recreation facilities and a generator. Many unemployed girls received beautician training.
  • Ten unemployed youth in Nepal did vocational training in beautician, tailoring, and driving.
  • 80 women employees of the Tibetan Women’s Handicraft Center in Rajpur received skill training in innovative production techniques and fair trade marketing, resulting in improved livelihood.
  • We also supported CTA’s Tibetan Career Center to provide career counseling and guidance to the unemployed youth.

Strengthening Tibetan Civil Society

twaRecognizing Tibetan Civil Society as a powerful agent of social change, The Tibet Fund has supported many Tibetan civil society organizations (CSOs) in their works and help to strengthen their organizational capabilities and outreach impact. Some highlights in this area:

  •  With a funding support of $65,000 from the Shelley and Rubin Foundation, The Tibet Fund has supported the Tibetan Women’s Advanced Leadership workshop organized by the Tibetan Women’s Association for five consecutive years since 2010.
  • manjushriSupport was given to establish and operate Tibetan Legal Association that provides legal aid services, advocacy work and legal education to the Tibetan community.
  • We support Manjushri Educational Services (MES) that works to improve Tibetan language literacy among the Tibetan community.
  • We also support Patient Care Trust (PCA) that provides pro bono services to poor and elderly Tibetans in seeking medical care.
  • Organized jointly with Individuell Manniskohjalp Swedish Development Partner and Tibet Relief Fund in 2016, The Tibet Fund organized the first conference on “Strengthening Tibetan Civil Society” for 20 NGOs from India and Nepal.

Tibetan Self-Reliance and Resilience Program

The USAID funded program for five years encompasses multiple components including livelihood improvement, education, health, cultural preservation, and institution strengthening, the latter focusing on CTA and other implementing partners. Diagnostic need assessments were completed in six key program areas to inform TSRR planning for the next four years in entrepreneurship development, workforce development, agriculture development, education, women empowerment, and culture preservation. Program highlights in this area since its implementation began in 2016,

More than 11,200 Tibetans in India and Nepal benefitted from sustainable livelihoods and institutional strengthening activities

  • 51 small enterprises received business development services
  • 13 new and aspiring entrepreneurs received support to start their businesses
  • 161 students participated in entrepreneurship clubs
  • 524 unemployed youths received vocational skill trainings
  • 364 farmers received technical training
  • 45 farmers received new crop cultivation
  • 7,837 students benefitted from basic education strengthening initiatives
  • 93 teachers received training and professional development
  • 205 students received scholarship for higher education
  • 342 CTA staff and new recruits received leadership and public administration training
  • 401 students received leadership training
  • 42 artists received training at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts

Tibetan Chamber of Commerce

chamberDelegation of the Tibetan Chamber of Commerce visits the US annually to establish partnership and build networks with various chambers of commerce and business institutions. Over the years, The Tibet Fund has facilitated meetings for the delegations with representatives of the Office of Tibet, International Campaign for Tibet, and the US State Department but also assisted in maximizing opportunities for networking and cooperation through engagements with business experts and leaders of the Chambers of Commerce of Manhattan, Queens, Greater Flushing, and Eastern Connecticut. Under the patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Chamber of Commerce was established in 2005 when Mr. Lobsang Nyandak served as its Finance Minister.

Revolving Loan Fund

After a nine-month detailed assessment of the community needs and economic problems of 25 refugee settlements in India and Nepal by our Board member, Richard Weingerten, The Tibet Fund launched Tibetan Economic Development Project. We worked for several years with the CTA, late Mr. Michael Currier of New Cycle Foundation and the Charitable Trust of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to establish $500,000 revolving loan fund in India. The project helped upgrade agricultural and handicraft cooperative societies, establish new cottage industries, develop small-scale industries and business in the settlements and strengthen existing agricultural and handicraft ventures.

Capacity-Building Programs

Tailoring our assistance based on assessed needs for capacity building within the Tibetan community, The Tibet Fund has implemented targeted and high-impact capacity building programs for our partner organizations in India and Nepal, in particular the departments and affiliates of the CTA and local Tibetan NGOs. Some program highlights in this area are

  • In 1997, we provided $30,000 to the CTA to organize a conference which was attended by 250 officials and community leaders from Tibetan settlements and scattered communities, schools, monasteries, and other institutions in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
  • We supported CTA-organized trainings for 50 accountants and 16 auditors from more than 18 cooperative service and industrial societies located in different parts of India.
  • Another 35 CTA and local NGO staff received intensive training courses in leadership and effective management at the then-newly established Human Resource Training Center in Dharamsala.
  • A total of 17 training courses and group workshops were conducted for the staff of Snow Lion Foundation in Nepal that implements education, health, and community development projects in all Tibetan settlements in Nepal.
  • We also provided $5000 to the Tibetan Public Service Commission for staff training and $8,373 to Planning Council for IDP-III

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