Youths dare to dream big with biz idea

National 4 minutes, 33 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A GROUP of eight Bruneian youths are eager to delve into opportunities in the agrifood industry and help diversify the local economy with the support of Darussalam Enterprise (DARe).

Aged between 21 and 25, they recently graduated from the United Kingdom with degrees in engineering, law, medicine and other skilled fields.

Concerned over the impact of low oil prices on the economy, they said they felt the need to contribute to its diversification.

The group’s business idea revolves around developing a product for the agrifood industry, and with DARe’s help, they managed to pitch it to the relevant agencies.

Present to listen to their business proposal were the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Hj Ali Hj Apong and a few members of the DARe board.

According to DARe, the group was put through a question and answer session during their presentation where different aspects of their business proposal were analysed.

The group also received practical advice on how to move their proposal to the implementation stage, how to find ways to market their product and how to get to know their customers through continuous product and market validation.

One of the team members, 21-year-old Lim Jun Hong, said DARe has provided very good support.

“(It was convenient) because all sectors are represented in the same building where DARe is. It’s much more efficient than going to each government building.

“When we found out the business support centre was opening, we felt it was a good idea to have a look. When we had the idea, we were very blessed to be facilitated throughout,” he said.

When the group of friends sat down together last year, he said they wanted to make sure they had a very diverse team.

“When we were confident with the idea, the first thing we did was a lot of research. Without (research), the business idea couldn’t have backing and a strong base.”

Another team member, 22-year-old Zainulariffin Abdul Rahman, stressed that you don’t need to be trained in business to pursue entrepreneurship.

“I think when you’re trying to achieve something big, it (can be done by taking) small steps at a time. Even if you want to do a large-scale business, you start off with low-cost and low-risk endeavours so that even if you fail early, you can always get back up and keep going at the problem.”

Zainulariffin, who is currently a project manager at an engineering firm, said surrounding yourself with good people who have good ideas minimises the need to worry about funding for the project.

“If the idea and business plan are good enough, money will follow. Your investors will come to you if your idea is good and if your team is efficient,” he said.

The group also wanted to ensure they were contributing to efforts of economic diversification in the country.

“Our business idea revolves around...what we could do together to diversify Brunei’s economy,” said another team member, Afifah Syahirah Abdullah Soefri, a 21-year-old architect.

“Earlier this year, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced the formation of the Foreign Direct Investment and Downstream Industry Committee. His Majesty highlighted the slow growth of Brunei’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, he said just because we have a small market doesn’t mean it should hinder the growth of our GDP.

“I guess what we’re doing is to address this issue because even though we will start off as a small company, we do plan to venture into the international market,” she said.

Since the establishment of DARe, the group said they have attended all its dialogues.

They said it was then that they realised how they could pitch their idea to DARe and receive support in matching them with the relevant agencies.

After various dialogues, the group followed through and recently sat down and discussed it with DARe officials.

The start-up has mapped out a plan by dividing their business proposal into various phases where the initial phase won’t require a large amount of capital. As most of them have day jobs, they’ve been saving up to at least fund themselves for the first phase of their business.

While the group is preparing to kickstart their business in agrifood soon, plans to expand their product and even venture into the international market are already being considered.

DARe said individuals or existing entrepreneurs who aspire to embark on a new business venture can seek its advice on the readiness of their business proposal and on how they can pitch their business plan.

DARe said this is part of their effort to ensure that the talents of our local people in producing great business ideas can be nurtured and groomed further by providing the right guidance and support so they can step up and bring their business proposals to the next level.

Moreover, in order to encourage the growth of new startups and innovation, DARe will also be providing incubation space such as at iCentre, where entrepreneurs will undergo mentorship and training programmes.

They will also have access to potential partnerships as well as market networks which will help maximise their growth continuously with the mindset of tapping into the global market.

The Brunei Times