Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) was established to develop micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into resilient drivers of economic growth. As part of its capacity building initiatives, DARe conducts several programmes to help aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups run their business effectively.
The Micro Bootcamp programme is aimed at youth looking to start a micro business, which is defined as an enterprise with four or less employees. Meanwhile, the Accelerate Bootcamp brings in the private sector, experts and established entrepreneurs to train and mentor participants on their entrepreneurial journey.
Business owners and employees may also join the Industry Business Academy by DARe to learn new business skills such as finance, human resources management, marketing and other business disciplines.
Another initiative by DARe is the Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (BMEN), which brings together successful entrepreneurs, industry experts, professionals and academia who share their knowledge and mentor growing businesses.
DARe also assists MSMEs by providing them with opportunities to meet investors through pitching sessions. Speaking in November 2020, DARe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Javed Ahmad shared that about BND1 million has been raised by MSMEs through DARe over the past financial year.
At present, there are 25 industrial sites across all four districts managed by DARe. The industrial sites provide a large area of space for manufacturing or service activities. DARe also has ready-built factories and co-working space for businesses.
Through the Standards Consultancy Programme, companies may receive consultancy and training from DARe to attain international certification such as ISO 22000 for food companies and ISO 9001 for logistics companies. In addition to assuring the quality of their products and services, the certification also prepares companies to expand their business overseas. DARe also works closely with government agencies to facilitate companies that are ready to network with big players outside of the country to grow their business with an aim to export.
For safety measures during the pandemic, DARe divided their staff into two groups, each taking turns to work in the office or from home on a weekly rotation. “With modern technology we were able to adapt fairly quickly, with Zoom and Teams, which are becoming the tools of the trade,” shared the DARe CEO. “That was of course extremely important, but this was also a time when we felt that businesses were under tremendous stress.”
In order to help local businesses, the Buy Local Produce campaign was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Ghanim International Corporation Sdn Bhd and DARe. The campaign enabled farmers to sell their produce to retailers when markets across the nation were
temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
Towards developing its own team of consultants, DARe has had its team members work side by side with business advisory experts from various industries as they assist local businesses.
“We have built our capability whereby within a period of one year, we can run these things inhouse,” said the DARe CEO.
One of DARe’s approaches is identifying the areas of strength and improvement within a business, followed by developing a framework. “So we provide two advantages. One is through advisory and consultancy, the other is analysis, but ultimately we are looking at the same aspect,” said Javed.
He added that DARe hopes to develop a group of consultants “who can mentor, coach and analyse businesses, or do a thorough analysis and come up with a set of recommendations that can make a major impact of the business”. The CEO also noted that DARe has sped up its process of helping companies attain the ISO certification. In the last one and a half years, 14 companies have been ISO certified, with more in the pipeline.
“This is something that traditionally we were getting a few companies certified every year as a country,” said Javed. He added that DARe is looking into further speeding up its certification process to ensure quality products for the domestic market meet the requirements for export.
This year, DARe is looking at a number of initiatives at the MSME level to generate opportunities. “One area that we have been working again, in a jointup manner with the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), the MoFE and Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd, is developing the marine cluster, as well as decommissioning,” shared the DARe CEO.
“There are a lot of other initiatives in other industries where we want to not just leave it to entrepreneurs, but play some nudging role in making these things happen,” he continued. The CEO also expects DARe’s advisory service to accelerate substantially.
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