BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Brunei government has established a steering committee for youth entrepreneurship, as a way to help more young Bruneians start their own businesses, His Majesty the Sultan announced on Saturday.

“This committee will help ease young people in starting their own businesses and enterprise, up to a point where it will enable them to be competitive, self-reliant and contribute towards the nation’s development,” he said in a titah to mark the country’s 14th National Youth Day.

The establishment of the committee comes on the back of the government’s efforts to restructure the entrepreneurship ecosystem to create an environment where more young people can thrive in business.

His Majesty also mentioned other opportunities set up by the government including the i-Usahawan initiative, which has set a target of awarding 200 contracts with government, government-linked companies (GLCs) and statutory bodies to young entrepreneurs by the end of 2021.

In 2018, i-Usahawan awarded 10 out of 60 available contracts to young local business owners.

A young man reads out Youth Day pledge. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

The sultan added that young entrepreneurs would play a crucial role in national development, particularly in agriculture and the creative industries.

“The agriculture industry has the potential to be developed [further], especially given the youths’ ability to adopt new methods, which can help strengthen productivity and thus penetrate external markets.

“These are all investments that need to be strengthened… We do not want to be mere observers, but to be involved and compete in the global arena.”

The monarch addressed more than 2,000 youth gathered at the International Convention Centre for National Youth Day, which celebrates young people’s contributions to the nation and community. This year, 88 youth-led SMEs, NGOs and creatives participated in a special showcase highlighting their work to the public.

The Scoop’s also participated in the National Youth Day showcase: 

Youth Awards recipients

A number of awards are also given out on the day to recognise youth leaders and projects.

The Excellent Youth Award this year went to Hjh Noor Monasaliena @ Suzie Hj Mohd Salleh, an entrepreneur who manages seven local companies, and is also the president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Brunei.

Hjh Noor Monasaliena also manages “Malam Minggu Pusat Belia“, a weekly event at the capital’s Youth Centre which has fast become a platform for creative and performing arts. She was also recognised for her efforts in bringing humanitarian aid to victims of the earthquake in Palu, in Indonesia last year.

HM the Sultan presents the Excellent Youth Award to Hjh Noor Monasaliena @ Suzie Hj Mohd Salleh, president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association Brunei. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali lecturer, Dr Hjh Ummi Fa’izah Hj Abd Rahman, was awarded the Youth Service Award for her community and youth building programs.

President of the Society for Community Outreach and Training (SCOT), Pg Salimatul Sa’ada Pg Mohd Salleh, received the Youth Leader Award. She was recognised for leading the Assalamualaikum Project, an anti-bullying initiative.

The Excellent Project for Youth Award went to Dart Logistics for providing youths with employment opportunities through their ride-hailing app, DartCar.

Since its launch a year ago, Dart has registered about 120 drivers, with 68 percent of them being youths between the ages of 20 and 40.