ThinkBig: Brunei finds IT path to market

National 3 minutes, 30 seconds


BRUNEIAN entrepreneurs are showing signs they are likely to turn out more excellent applications of technology that benefit the Muslim world, the head of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) said yesterday.

Dato Timothy Ong, BEDB acting chairman, took note of Bruneian entrepreneurs' potential in developing commercial applications of technology at an awards ceremony that saw young IT entrepreneurs and professionals winning top prizes of the ThinkBig Business Plan Competition.

"I see that Brunei is developing some expertise in the areas of Islamic content applying ICT to Islamic content. And you can see from the joint winners ... E-Mimit Technologies and their Go Halal system, I see a theme there," he said.

Dato Paduka Ong said this would be an area where Brunei can excel in and that he is encouraged about it.

Asked about the range of the businesses that are now using ICT to further develop their businesses, Dato Paduka Ong said, "The subject matter may vary, but the theme is still the same". He added that it was all about applying ICT to the business process.

"It has become a critical part of the way we live our lives, the way we do business, the way we live with each other and the way we make friends," said the BEDB acting chairman, who named Facebook, as an example of a major social vehicle.

"Whether you're talking about education, or something else, the common theme is all about applying ICT to make things easier and more efficient, such as the third place winner Crescent Sdn Bhd, with her plan to provide an online master's degree in Islamic finance through the Internet," he said.

"The subject matter is different but the common theme is the application of ICT," he said.

Hj Rushdi El-Hakim Dato Hj Ibrahim, managing director of Mimit E-Technology, and winner of the ThinkBig Business Plan competition, said, "We saw there was a niche market, and the total Muslim population in the world is 1.6 billion, and if we can just tap 0.01 per cent of that we can still make money."

As long as there is a large Muslim population, he said halal food would be in demand. That was where the idea for their Go Halal portal came from, he added.

"The portal would be to help the government to speed up the process of verification to help get halal food certified. In Brunei, to get one product certified as halal, you have to go through 13 stages ... and we do it manually. But with our tools, it's about entering the key points to find out if it's halal or haram," said Abdul Hadi Embran, marketing director of Mimit E-Technology.

"The aim of the online master's programme is to ensure that the right Islamic knowledge is passed into the market system, because a lot of banks have ... bent certain syariah rules to get their products out into the market and we wanted to make sure that the knowledge that we give into the market is Islamic disciplined to mould the Islamic banking industry the right way," said Hjh Salma Hj Abdul Latiff, from Crescent Sdn Bhd, the third place winner of the competition.

However, Dato Paduka Ong added that it is not only about having a "brilliant idea", but also hard work and discipline, and other business aspects such as cash flow management and good practices.

"Whether you're talking about ICT (in) running a business or ICT as a passion, there has to be discipline and staying power, and if you look around Brunei, and you see the very successful entrepreneurs, many of them have built up the businesses over many years," he said.

"We also want them to realise that you need to plan and communicate ideas clearly and you need to work hard. So this competition is trying to send out this message. It's not about having a great idea and the world will love it, and after the plan, they need to know how to execute and the next challenge will be on how to implement the idea," he said.

The Brunei Times