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Government remains committed to support local enterprises

By Borneo Bulletin

Danial Norjidi

THE development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a key aspect of Brunei Vision 2035.

In a statement issued by DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) in conjunction with International Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Day on June 27, it was highlighted that MSMEs are a critical force in the global economy, driving innovation, economic development and job creation.

According to the statement, “Within Brunei, the development of MSMEs is an essential component of Brunei Vision 2035, which envisions a dynamic and sustainable economy, with a per capita GDP that ranks among the top 10 in the world”.

“To enable entrepreneurship and spur the development of MSMEs that are innovative, diverse and competitive internationally, Brunei has recently embarked on an ambitious reform agenda to improve the Ease of Doing Business in the Sultanate, in addition to establishing a national body for the support of MSMEs.

“Through a whole-of-nation approach, the Brunei Government, working closely with the private sector, has successfully moved up in the past four years from 108 to 56 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, which tracks the regulatory framework affecting businesses throughout their lifecycle.”

The statement goes on to note that DARe was established to champion the development of MSMEs into dynamic and resilient drivers of economic growth. It currently runs three training programmes for MSMEs, and also runs two business bootcamps throughout the year.

With regards to financing MSMEs, DARe has introduced a Microcredit Financing Scheme, which offers a financing of up to BND15,000. DARe also works closely with the newly established Bank Usahawan, where MSMEs can obtain financing of up to BND750,000.

DARe also provides MSMEs with space for expansion and growth, including incubation space for startups, and industrial land and ready-built factories for larger businesses. Over 300 businesses currently occupy the 29 industrial sites across Brunei’s four districts managed by DARe, engaging in a range of manufacturing and services.

To enable access to local markets, DARe has launched the Made in Brunei initiative which provides Bruneian-made products with access to a growing number of retail outlets nationwide, as well as product displays strategically located at premier hotels and at the Brunei International Airport (BIA).

DARe also connects MSMEs to international markets through international expositions and trade fairs. In addition, it is developing a comprehensive programme for MSMEs to have the production capacity, international certifications and logistics to export successfully.

The statement adds that, to address specific problems, issues and inquiries from MSMEs, DARe has Business Support Centres – a flagship branch situated in the capital, housing 13 different government agencies, and two other branches in the Belait and Temburong districts that operate as a frontline service for MSMEs to facilitate business-related processes and record their issues, which are then resolved through a dedicated support team. More than 16,000 visits have been recorded at these support centres, with 83 per cent of the issues resolved.

DARe has also set up online platform, Biz Brunei to promote entrepreneurship by chronicling the journey of local MSMEs, while socialising the latest business opportunities and reforms.

The importance of MSMEs was also recently highlighted in a speech by the Minister of Energy and Industry Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein on July 24 at the LiveWIRE Business Awards Start-up Funding Scheme ceremony.

In his speech, the minister noted that the Ministry of Energy and Industry is currently the custodian of a wide range of portfolios – energy, electricity, industry, manpower, climate change, science and technology as well as entrepreneurship – through its close collaboration with DARe.

“All of these elements are inter-related. In our journey towards realising the Brunei Vision 2035 goals, it is our collective responsibility to synchronise and harness all these together.

“We see entrepreneurs as one of the major lifelines of our economy who will be key determinants of success – not just in each portfolio we have mentioned, but also for our society’s well-being,” he said.

“Our local MSMEs are not just a source of economic output, but they are a vital source of employment and innovation,” said the minister. “We are counting on entrepreneurs, like yourselves, and MSMEs to realise many of our Brunei Vision 2035 goals and beyond.

“The future of the private sector rests with the success of our MSMEs – we need to expand beyond the handful of oil and gas enterprises and government-linked companies that currently dominate the private sector.”

The minister affirmed that the government, along with its partners like DARe and various other agencies and entrepreneurship centres, remain committed to support local enterprises.

“We are committed to not only encouraging entrepreneurship programmes like LiveWIRE and the Energy Business Academy, but also creating a conducive business ecosystem for our local businesses and forging linkages between local businesses and FDI companies.”