BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) is set to launch the MSME festival on Thursday, hoping to connect local businesses with regional markets and buyers.

More than 200 Bruneian businesses will be showcased at the festival, which will be held at BRIDEX Hall from March 28 to 31, with buyers from Singapore, Malaysia and Japan also attending to seek out potential partnerships with local SMEs.

DARe CEO Javed Ahmad said Japanese businesses will be looking to source halal food products for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and are on the lookout for Bruneian SMEs that can do the job.

“When you have people from all over the world coming in, halal food is important, as literally one fifth of the world’s population is Muslim,” he said.

The MSME festival is the biggest event DARe has ever organised, one which they hope to expand in future years.

Companies taking part include those from the food and beverage, beauty and cosmetics, fashion and textile, gifts and souvenirs, furniture, home improvement and real estate industries.

“There is a diversity of products and services that will be available during the festival,” Javed said. “We want to make sure that the variety of businesses that make up our MSMEs are represented.”

“The impact of the festival is really for businesses that have an established track record to find partners and start exporting”.

The organisers have also put together a series of panel discussions and workshops throughout the four days to facilitate business matchmaking opportunities between domestic and overseas partners.

Speakers include local business leaders who have successfully entered the exports arena, as well as officials from the Asian Trade Center and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation.

The festival will feature a number of relevant government agencies and financial institutions who will conduct workshops and guidance sessions for budding entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business.

“The DARe team will also be there to provide any support because we want to make sure that we help our businesses in terms of achieving their marketing goals and sales during the exhibition,” said Javed.

Since its establishment in 2016, DARe’s mission has been to improve market access for local businesses and promote SMEs as drivers of economic growth.

MSMEs contributed about 38 percent to Brunei’s GDP in 2015, with revenue rising from from $7.9 billion in 2010 to $8.3 billion in 2015.