More SMEs needed in Tutong

National 2 minutes, 35 seconds

TUTONG

THE Department of Agriculture and Agrifood through the Agrifood Industry Division is making efforts to encourage residents of Tutong district to develop more small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Acting Head of the Agrifood Industry Division, Siti Juhaidah Junaidi, said only a small number of SMEs are located in Tutong district, as most of them are in the Brunei-Muara district owing to various factors, including the accessibility of raw materials.

“Therefore, we are trying to provide residents with more information in the hope of attracting more people who haven’t started businesses yet,” she said yesterday during a roadshow at Serambangun Community Hall.

The head of the Agrifood Industry Development Unit, Nurul Ehra Hayati Hussin, told The Brunei Times that the roadshows are to show residents that the department provides consultation and advice on the agrifood industry.

One of the courses provided is on packaging and labelling, which is one of the most common things asked about during the roadshows, she added.

“However, we don’t provide financial aid services. But we do help them with their business plans so they can apply for loans from banks.”

Siti Juhaidah said SMEs that wish to expand can also apply for bank credit schemes from several agencies such as the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) or the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR).

The roadshows are conducted once a year in every district and have received a good response from residents, said Siti Juhaidah.

“Usually after the roadshows, more will come for the courses provided,” she added.

The Brunei Times talked to two entrepreneurs who agreed that the roadshows helped them improve their businesses.

Hjh Lumat @ Hjh Siah Hj Kadir of Syarikat Masuri, who has been selling products since 1976, said the roadshows are helpful, especially on how to package products.

Alhamdulillah, every time I come to the roadshows, I learn something new, and this new information I gain helps me improve my products.

“It was in 1991 that I decided to focus on selling mini spring rolls (popia damit) because of the high demand. I used to earn around $300 a month back then. But ever since I began attending the roadshows, I’ve been receiving more than $600-$700 a month.”

Hjh Lumat @ Hjh Siah said the busiest times are during festive seasons such as Hari Raya and Chinese New Year, where she earns more than $12,000.

“One thing I want to learn most during these roadshows is on labelling, particularly on how to decorate the labels to attract customers from overseas. Once I have the right label, I will expand my business and send my products overseas.”

Hjh Hosnah Hj Yassin of Syarikat Hj Ahmad Daud Mohd Idris also said her earnings have increased ever since she attended the roadshows and courses provided by the Agrifood Industry Division.

“I’ve gone to the roadshows since 2011, and I encourage everyone to go, especially those interested in setting up a business, because it’s worth gaining all the new information.”

The roadshows also gave her the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs.

The Brunei Times