BRUNEI DARUSSALAM’S COMMITMENT TO DEVELOPING LOCAL BUSINESSES
Brunei’s private sector currently comprises a handful of corporations and many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In order to strengthen Brunei’s private sector and create an enabling and favourable environment for the development of local businesses, a Local Business Development Strategy was formulated through policy directions outlined in Brunei’s Wawasan 2035. With the objective of increasing opportunities for local SMEs and encouraging competitiveness and leadership in business, the strategy calls for:
- Introducing well-designed and well-funded programmes and more effective ways of financing local enterprises to help local SMEs and entrepreneurs gain business skills and become more competitive;
- Developing incubation centres to assist and promote local SMEs and entrepreneurs in areas such as ICT;
- Maximising the indirect benefits of foreign direct investments for local SMEs and entrepreneurs;
- Encouraging the use of local products, local suppliers and contractors by major businesses and industries;
- Privatising, commercialising and outsourcing of government services as a way of expanding opportunities for local SMEs and entrepreneurs;
- Reducing the cost of doing business for local SMEs and entrepreneurs by simplifying government procedures;
- Ensuring prompt government decisions and payment to local contractors and suppliers.
LOCAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES UNDERTAKEN BY THE BEDB
In an effort to develop a more coherent approach that encourages positive growth and development, the BEDB has formulated several effective and promising local business development programmes and initiatives through a framework that emphasizes Capability, Capital and Connectivity. The aim is to create opportunities for local businesses while promoting a business-friendly environment. These include:
MICRO ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT
Under the Micro Enterprise Development Initiative, the BEDB, in 2008, established a non-profit making organization, Youth Development Resources (YDR), with the objective to help start small businesses by the young people of Brunei as well as to increase the pool of young entrepreneurs while contributing to the effort to minimize unemployment issues in the country. Implemented in partnerships with the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports, Alcoa of the USA, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam, Petroleum Geo Services of Norway and Citi Foundation of the USA, programmes run by YDR include motivational seminars; business/job mentoring programmes; business/job skills enhancement workshops; and a business micro grant scheme.
To date, YDR, through its business micro grant scheme, has disbursed grants in the form of equipments to 45 recipients from Pusat Pembangunan Belia and Taman Nurhidayah, and has helped to start 38 new businesses. The types of businesses undertaken through this scheme include bakery, tailoring, food kiosks, catering services, beauty salon, weaving, car washing, plant nursery, fish mongering as well as air-conditioning maintenance and repair.
START-UP & GROWTH ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT
In encouraging the development of innovative and knowledge-based start-ups and enterprises in Brunei, the BEDB is currently establishing a three-phased development of Anggerek Desa Technology Park. The objective is to promote and attract a diversity of technologies reflective of the varied technological capability of our local enterprises. This three-phased development includes:
Launched in 2008 by HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, iCentre is Brunei’s first ICT incubation centre that focuses on nurturing ICT entrepreneurs to develop Made-in-Brunei products and applications through a well-structured and effective incubation programme. The iCentre is currently managed by KR Consulting, a business unit of National University of Singapore (NUS) and has to date incubated over 15 local ICT companies in areas such as mobile phone content, barcode and RFID applications as well as software and public portal development. Through its mentorship and networking programmes, the iCentre provides its incubatees access not only to professional advices but also to potential partners and clients, both locally and internationally.
The iCentre is equipped with fully wired plug-and-play incubation spaces which can accommodate up to 16 full-time and 5 virtual companies at one time. It also provides common facilities including meeting rooms, a conference room, an auditorium as well as a prayer room and a cafeteria.
|One of the incubatees at iCentre
The Knowledge Hub, shortly known as K-Hub, is a 7-storey energy-efficient building located right next to iCentre. Completed in January 2010, the K-Hub serves as a technology-based research and development (R&D) centre that houses several activities including:
- TelBru for ICT Leadership and Management Academy
- TechOne Global/Microsoft for Microsoft Experience Centre
- UBD/IBM for Climate Modelling Research Centre
- Ministry of Defence for National Modelling and Simulation Centre
The K-Hub is Brunei’s first commercial green building with part of its energy requirements met by solar power generation and incorporating energy-efficient technologies such as motion sensors for lighting and energy-saving elevators.
The development of Phase 3 in Anggerek Desa Technology Park is currently still under evaluation with activities targeted at business concierge service; high-tech and high-growth clusters; creative and multimedia companies; as well as local artisan and women entrepreneurs.
INTERNATIONALIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION SUPPORT
Under the Internationalization and Commercialization Support Initiative, the BEDB is currently looking into the possibility of establishing the Promising Local Enterprise Development Scheme (PLEDS) with the objective to provide support to help promising local companies to enhance their competitiveness and expand overseas. Targeted for Brunei-based established enterprises, this scheme is expected to serve a broad range of industries including oil and gas, transportation and logistics, construction, ICT as well as food manufacturing and processing, through various activities such as financial assistance, competency programmes and market access.
To further support and facilitate the development of local businesses in Brunei, the BEDB has also identified several important initiatives that will help enhance their effectiveness while giving them a base from which to expand as they push to go further in their business ventures. They include:
Local Enterprise Applications & Products (LEAP) Programme
The LEAP Application Form can be downloaded HERE.
LEAP Materials can be found on this page - Presentations
The Local Enterprise Applications & Products (LEAP) Programme is a grant scheme aimed at providing financial assistance to develop new products and applications across a broad range of industries that have innovative technological content, commercial practicality and good export potential as well as a highly committed and qualified project team. Launched in July 2010, the programme is targeted at local SMEs as well as students and researchers of higher learning institutions where each application with a solid business plan can obtain a grant of up to B$150,000.00 for the purpose of developing promising product concepts into prototypes or pilot projects.
Recently, His Majesty The Sultan of Brunei has consented to the disbursement of a total amount of B$1,292,247.00 to 9 locally developed projects under the LEAP grant scheme. A total of 21 applications were received in October last year, of which 16 projects underwent a rigorous evaluation process, with recommendations by the Evaluation Committee to support 9 promising projects being endorsed by the Programme Committee. The 9 winning companies are Bru-GPS; Gzup Manufacturing & Trading; Infindo Technology; Expansys Technologies; M&G Sustainable Aquaculture; RiTS; Syarikat Batik Desamas; Modasys; and John Harith Technology.
As an integral part of the scheme, the winning companies will undergo a series of development programmes such as financial management courses as well as other related programmes run by Brunei’s ICT incubator, iCentre, with the objective of assisting the companies to become more competitive, self-reliant and economically sustainable. A Monitoring Committee will also be established to constantly monitor their progress in order to ensure the success of their projects.
The LEAP Application Form can be downloaded HERE.
LEAP Materials can be found on this page - Presentations
Accel-X Venture Capital Fund
In May 2009, the BEDB invested B$5 million in Accel-X Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based venture capital fund that invests into early stage technology companies that are highly scalable. With the objective to support the development and expansion of promising Brunei-based high-tech companies beyond Brunei, the fund helps young technology firms to finance their expansion into viable markets, provides further value-add via hands-on mentoring and injection of operational capabilities.
Infindo Technology, an iCentre incubatee, is the first Brunei technology company to have received the funding.
Buy Brunei Portal
The Buy Brunei Portal, www.padian.com, is the nation’s first online business facilitation and marketing portal to serve as a platform to promote trade and partnership between local and international businesses, which provides greater access to information sharing, networking as well as business matching services.
Developed by a local consortium, AMIR, the portal caters for a diverse group of industries ranging from businesses selling food and beverages to businesses providing environmental services that have a proper business license and are ready to export or import their products and services both locally and globally. For more information or to join as a member of the portal, please visit www.padian.com.
In order to help facilitate SMEs in the business start up processes, legal advisory as well as in providing business information, the BEDB is currently developing the framework for a one-stop business concierge service called the Opportunity Centre. To be located in Phase 3 of Anggerek Desa Technology Park, the Opportunity Centre is aimed to help improve the ease of doing business in Brunei through the provision of business-related services. At the same time, the Opportunity Centre is also expected to collaborate actively with relevant government agencies and stakeholders in order to improve Brunei’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business through the improvement of the regulatory environment for businesses.
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