BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Brunei government is the midst of restructuring its entrepreneurship ecosystem to create an environment where more young people can thrive in business, His Majesty the Sultan said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the 13th National Youth Day held at the International Convention Centre, the monarch said the changes will focus on providing training, physical and digital infrastructure, financing facilities and market access to business owners.

He added that the government is working to provide a diverse range of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to help grow their business and penetrate international markets.

Young Bruneian women taking the youth oath during the 13th National Youth Day at the ICC on August 1, 2018. Photo: Saifulizam Zamhor

Here are some of the key takeaways from National Youth Day:

Launching of i-Usahawan

In conjunction with National Youth Day, His Majesty launched i-Usahawan, a youth entrepreneurship programme spearheaded by the Ministry of Energy, Manpower & Industry in collaboration with the Brunei Shell Joint Venture (BSJV) companies.

The scheme is open to indigenous (rakyat jati) business owners aged 21 and 40, who have yet to win tenders with government-linked companies in the oil and gas industry, including Brunei Shell Petroleum, Brunei LNG and Brunei Shell Marketing.

Entrepreneurs can bid for thirty contracts currently available for tender ranging from landscape maintenance to event management.

His Majesty said the i-Usahawan programme could potentially be extended to government agencies and GLCs in non-oil and gas sectors, enabling youth-owned businesses a chance to bid for those contracts.

HM the Sultan speaks to Philip Ong, founder of BruGoat Farming, during the 13th National Youth Day on August 1, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

In his titah, he added that the rapid development of technology has also broadened the scope for business, and youth should think creatively to take advantage of the digital frontier.

Technology can also facilitate the the growing opportunities in agribusiness, with the sultan urging a revival of the country’s youth agricultural programme called Program Peladang Muda.

“By making the most out of existing initiatives or those that are currently in the works, it is possible to create hundreds of entrepreneurs and thousands job opportunities. Therefore, we must make sure that it does not go to waste,” he said.

Youth Awards recipients

This year, three youth leaders were recognised for their contribution to the country.

Hj Syed Mohammad Yassin Hj Syed Anayatullah Shah received the Excellent Youth Award for founding one of the country’s leading event management companies, Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services.

Sixth-form teacher Nurul Hadina Hj Alias received the Youth Service Award for her volunteerism and community education programmes.

Ak Abdul Azim Pg Yusof, founder of education startup Teachmeguru, received the Youth Leader Award. His company, in collaboration with Kelab Komuniti Belia Transformasi, received the Outstanding Youth Project Award for Belia Sayang, a programme which provides free weekly tuition classes for over 60 ‘O’ Level students.

Recipient of the ‘Excellent Youth’ award, Hj Syed Mohammad Yassin (L), speaks with HM the Sultan during the 13th National Youth Day on August 1, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

Publishing of ‘Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem’ handbook

Four government agencies — the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; Ministry of Energy, Manpower & Industry; Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism; and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) — launched a new publication titled Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.

The 41-page handbook is a guide to the SME ecosystem in Brunei and provides a brief explanation on training and support services; financing; infrastructure; facilities; market access and opportunities to start and grow a business.

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Hj Aminuddin Ihsan said it was important to ensure the impact of the government’s initiatives were long-term. He added that a committee had been formed to review and assess entrepreneurship initiatives periodically.

Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop