The development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is essential to achieve the country’s vision of a dynamic and sustainable economy. Thus, Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) was established to develop MSMEs into resilient drivers of economic growth.
DARe offers various services including business bootcamps, working space and consultancy and training to attain international certification.
As part of its capacity building initiatives, DARe conducts Bootcamps and training programmes to strengthen participants’ business knowledge so that they can be more effective in running their business.
The Micro Bootcamp programme is for youth looking to start a micro business, which is defined as an enterprise with four or less employees. Meanwhile, the Accelerate Bootcamp brings in private sector experts and established entrepreneurs to train and mentor participants in their entrepreneurial journey.
Through its Industry Business Academy, DARe trains business owners or employees to learn new business skills such as finance, human resource management, marketing and other business disciplines.
Another initiative by DARe is the Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (BMEN). Business mentors are brought together, made up of successful entrepreneurs, industry experts, professionals and academia who share their knowledge and mentor growing businesses.
DARe helps businesses by offering industrial sites, parks and ready-built factories as well as co-working space. The industrial sites provide businesses a large area of space for manufacturing or service activities, while readybuilt factories allow micro and small businesses, especially home-based businesses to expand their production. DARe currently manages 25 industrial sites in all four districts.
Among the spaces offered by DARe is the iCentre, a startup incubation programme and coworking space for entrepreneurs, as well as the Knowledge Hub (KHUB) to develop innovative industries. The recently revamped Kontena Park provides a platform for foodpreneurs to test and validate their products in a real market setting before they migrate to a commercial space to grow their business.
DARe’s various market access initiatives help businesses expand overseas. Through the Standards Consultancy Programme, companies receive consultancy and training to attain international certification such as ISO 22000 and ISO9001, assuring quality of their products and services.
According to DARe CEO Javed Ahmad, several businesses in the country have received ISO certification. DARe aims to help local businesses in other sectors such as service and cosmetics to attain international certification and prepare them for growth domestically and export.
Another market access initiative is the Bruneian Made, which aims to increase local businesses’ presence in the domestic market by showcasing products in local supermarkets and partnering with souvenir shops, the Brunei International Airport and premium hotels.
In terms of international market access, DARe works closely with government agencies to facilitate companies that are ready to network with big players outside of the country to grow their business and are looking to export. DARe LINKS, on the other hand, is a linkage programme between large companies and MSMEs.
Through a series of assessments, mentoring and training, DARe helps MSMEs secure contracts with participating large companies.
DARe makes it easy for businesses to access government services at its Business Support Centre. In addition, businesses can apply for various permits, licenses and registration. Businesses can also learn more about the programmes and incentives available for MSMEs.
In terms of financing, DARe offers a Co-Matching whereby businesses invest in 30 per cent of the total cost of a project, while DARe funds the remaining 70 per cent for a maximum of BND20,000.
Meanwhile, Biz Brunei is an initiative by DARe to provide an online news platform to feature stories of local entrepreneurs.
With regards to DARe’s achievements in 2019, CEO Javed Ahmad said he is proud of DARe providing a platform where people can test out their business ideas and raise funds from investors — not only in the country but also regional markets such as Singapore and Malaysia.
Javed also mentioned that several businesses in the country have recently attained international certification. He hoped that more business will be certified ready to export their products.
Touching on DARe’s plans for 2020 and beyond, he said that DARe is looking at investing in a new facility, potentially in the Salambigar industrial site. “That’s something that we are quite excited about because that’s building infrastructure in the country from our own operating resources, as opposed to relying on government funding,” Javed said.
Copyright 2019 Borneo Bulletin Yearbook 2019 All rights reserved.