From jobless to starting a business

National 4 minutes, 14 seconds


VENTURING into entrepreneurship in a small market is laden with risks, but some Bruneian youths are turning the challenge into an opportunity to help address unemployment.

Hj Syed Mohd Yassin Hj Syed Anayatullah Syah, manager of Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services, said entrepreneurship is one way of creating job opportunities for locals.

“One example I can relate is my company where we help young aspiring entrepreneurs by providing them a platform to sell their products, such as youth festivals and Ramadhan bazaars.

“From my observation, these vendors hire other young people to work with them, as simple as manning their booths. This is how entrepreneurship creates job opportunities,” he said.

The manager said the rise in number of young entrepreneurs can help curb unemployment in Brunei and gradually decrease government reliance to create jobs.

“These small entrepreneurs cannot offer high salaries, say $300 to $500 per month, but employers will eventually be able to pay more when their business grows,” he added.

The Department of Economic Planning and Development’s figures last year showed that more than 25 per cent of unemployed people were aged 15 to 24 years.

The department’s Labour Force Survey found that 14,100 were jobless last year. Over 25 per cent of employed people in Brunei work in the services sector, particularly in the civil service.

Only 4.6 per cent of the population had their own businesses or were contributing family workers.

In a 2009 unemployment study by the think tank Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies, only 46 of 636 jobseekers said they tried to start their own business.

Based on a ranking of jobs preference among the respondents, starting own business was the lowest in the list.

Five of the survey respondents also said they applied for money to start a business.

Hj Syed said he would always advise young people not to worry too much about startup capital.

“Businesses can start even with zero capital. One needs to research the type of business he/she wants to venture in.

“Start utilising social media and networking with other people for free advertising. Start selling other people’s products, be an agent or be a broker. That’s zero capital business or at least low cost business,” he added.

A youth group - who calls themselves Creative Enterprising Bruneians, or CEBs - was recently established to empower youth to create ideas and develop them into businesses by training them to become entrepreneurs through workshops.

Co-founder Dk Ratna Siti Nooraidah Pg Dato Paduka Hj Hamzad said the initiative was set up under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI)’s ASEAN project after attending its entrepreneurship workshop in May.

“I decided to start this project along with my co-founder, Siti Wa’afi Nabila Hj Md Issra’ah, in the hopes to equip the younger generation of Brunei with the knowledge that we have gained from the workshop.

“Basically, CEBs will welcome unemployed locals and facilitate them with a series of workshops to tap their creativity and involve them with social enterprises. It can include designing school uniforms for pre-school kids, producing traditional cookies, hand-crafted cards and such,” she said.

Dk Ratna said unemployment can be tackled by starting businesses, instead of wasting time waiting for jobs.

She acknowledged that there will be challenges along the journey of starting a business, but one has to persevere and be innovative to suit the market’s needs.

“We hope to recruit many young Bruneians so that they can contribute as many ideas as they can and make CEBs a platform for revenue stream to interested parties or organisations,” she said.

Revenue stream is defined by income that an organisation gets from a particular activity.

The CEBs team is under the mentorship of YSEALI’s regional partners and networks, hence the members will have the chance to find market opportunities outside the country.

“We are to organise sharing sessions at colleges and high schools throughout the country. We will also organise an exhibition at The Mall, Gadong on August 21-23 to create public awareness on entrepreneurship with the collaboration of Indonesian YSEALI alumni who have similar social projects,” said Dk Ratna.

In his 69th birthday titah earlier this month, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, had brought up the issue of unemployed locals being too choosy with jobs in the private sector, preferring to wait for government employment.

The monarch had said job opportunities are available, but vacancies in the private sector are usually filled by foreign workers, as local job-seekers preferred to work in the government.

Syifa ‘Aliyah Md Faisal, the moderator of Facebook group Brunei Job Seekers, said His Majesty’s titah is an acknowledgement to youth groups or associations who have been actively initiating projects to help the government address unemployment.

“This is also a motivation for other young people to start thinking about the future and not wait for the government to spoonfeed us. It’s time to help the government in any way we can in creating more job opportunities in the sultanate,” she added.

The Brunei Times