Youth chase their business dreams

National 4 minutes, 41 seconds


IT STARTED with a dream to open a business. But for the dream to materialise, two youth entrepreneurs had to rise to the challenge, with one even defying his parents’ disapproval.

Md Khairul Anwar Sabir took a risk when he decided to leave college abroad in 2011, much to his parents’ dismay.

He believed that instead of spending a large amount of money on education, he would rather pursue his interest and open a comic book store.

His parents told him that if he was serious about opening up a comic bookstore, he would need to find his own finances.

“As parents, it is understandable to be worried about your child’s future, and ensure that future would be stable,” said Md Khairul Anwar.

With no capital to open his business, he took up a job at the iCentre incubatee PHMD Publishing.

“I collected the earnings from publishing a book, and my first partner and I had to sell some of our comic book collections just to get enough capital to pay for the space and set up the business.”

He then opened the comic bookstore named Fanboys Infinite with his partner in 2012, when he was just 22.

However, it was not all rosy when Md Khairul Anwar opened the business.

The comic bookstore was not doing well as he was operating in a niche market.

Md Khairul Anwar admitted that during the worst times, his parents gave money to help him survive.

The first store opened in a small space at Menglait, which was typically confused for a DVD store or a tailor. He added that after securing a new partner in an experienced Haslan Ali earlier this year, the business expanded.

With his new partner, they quickly moved into a bigger store across the street, which caught the attention of those passing by. Since the move in March, the number of customers increased.

“We noticed that our comic sales would rise when a new comic book movie is released. So we are projecting an increase of customers in the next few years, with the release of huge comic book movies such as The Avengers 2 movie coming out in 2015 and the highly anticipated Batman v Superman movie coming out in 2016,” he added.

As a comic book fan from childhood and never regretting his decision to chase his dream, Md Khariul Anwar said,“If you really believe in what you want to do, you shouldn’t let anything stop you”.

“Parents bring you into this world and all they want for you is to be successful. Parents usually play it safe, to ensure their child’s future will be stable. So if you can prove them wrong, I think they would be even prouder,” he added.

Another youth entrepreneur who decided to create a niche market in Brunei was Giap On, franchise rights holder of Taiwanese bubble tea company Easyway.

“It was a monumental task in promoting a then unfamiliar drink to the country's populace. Because of that, our business did not pick up as we hoped it would and we were besieged by a multitude of financial difficulties early on,” said On.

To buy the Easyway franchise, On used the money received from an insurance plan that his father had paid for him from infancy till he was 18. He also added that to help sustain the business, he had to apply for loans.

“Initially, the demographic of bubble tea drinkers were primarily young teenagers and those who have heard of Easyway. Overtime, it became widespread among adults to take a sip as shown by the growing number of bubble tea franchises that have bloomed all over the Sultanate,” he said.

Ten years after starting his business when he was 22, On said the bubble tea market has expanded exponentially, adding that the increase in the number of competitors in the market has helped the business because more people are aware of the drink.

On advised young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, but also to be realistic at the same time.

“Listen to advice from successful people, but that doesn't mean you have to copy everything from them. Don't be afraid to fail because that's the only way you ever learn to be successful.”

To promote entrepreneurship in the sultanate, the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Universiiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) are developing the National Entrepreneurship Agenda, the Minister of Education had said during the 10th Legislative Council sitting in March.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awang Abu Bakar Hj Apong  had said the National Entrepreneurship Agenda would encompass every level of education as well as the establishment of centres for incubation and internship.

A group that is established to provide assistance to young entrepreneurs is the Young Entrepreneurs Association Brunei (YEAB).

The non-profit organisation’s president, Del Goh, said it can help guide youth, to ensure they are well-informed of the risks in opening and sustaining a business.

Goh said YEAB has connections with several ministries and if an individual needed help and YEAB were not able to provide the assistance, they could easily channel the individual to the right authority.

YEAB members are mostly entrepreneurs under the age of 45 with expertise in fields such as IT, law and accounting.

“If you want to start a business, you have to be passionate about it and have a proper vision or plan, if you have an issue that you can’t resolve you can come to us and we have an array of experienced members who have gone through a lot and are willing to offer you support,” he added.

The Brunei Times