Nyema Zam

“Growing up, I was into books and movies. Apa was in the army, and we lived in Kalimpong. I, along with the children in our colony, owe Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother for the excellent school we attended. Mine was a convent school which taught me to become independent and respect different cultures. For my college vacation in 1999, I was in Thimphu when BBS had just started. I applied and topped the interview. At 18, I started working and celebrated my 19th birthday in BBS. Over the years, I became a news and radio anchor and was into the advertisement. However, despite all the hats I wore, in the end, we were paid based on our qualifications. Hence I decided to continue my education and later got into a master’s program under the Australia Award Scholarship. AAS was instrumental in uplifting women’s education in Bhutan, and I got to attend a world-class university.

I had heard of Netflix before, but in Australia, for the first time, I could get my own subscription. The more I watched their content, the more I got curious and wanted to learn how they worked.

Although I didn’t write any assignments on Netflix, I read around 23 case studies which gave me the idea to start something similar in Bhutan. Initially, I pushed the concept with BBS, where I had worked for 15 years, but it couldn’t materialise as I expected.
I was concerned when my two children didn’t want to watch BBS–a platform I was so proud of. So, I decided to do it independently, and that’s how Samuh started.

In the initial days, it was challenging, but I could manage to get some investors on board, and luckily, the National Credit Guarantee Scheme was just launched for priority sectors.

The number of mobile phone users was triple that of TV, and an OTT platform was an ample opportunity. However, the cost of the internet was high in Bhutan, and piracy became a challenge for us, indicating an unmet demand for content. Braving them all, we are steadily growing, and Samuh is touching new heights daily.

As women, even by giving our best, our gender can pose a barrier to achieving leadership roles in governments and cooperations alike. However, the private sector is often based on how well a person can convince others, which doesn’t have much to do with gender. At Samuh, we consciously encouraged women’s leadership in filmmaking by handholding and supporting women-led film projects. The result of this was seeing four female debut directors last year.

Running a company demanded many work hours, and even weekends had to be sacrificed, but I could manage due to my family’s support. Despite being a mother of two, I had the freedom to work and make my dream company a reality.”

#humansofthimphu #humanstory

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