BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has called for the i-Usahawan youth entrepreneurship programme to be expanded to non-energy sectors after showing promising early results.

Delivering his titah during the National Youth Day celebration on Saturday, the monarch said 24 young entrepreneurs were awarded 19 contracts worth about $29 million in the energy sector under the programme.

The i-Usahawan programme, spearheaded by the Ministry of Energy, was launched in 2018 to provide opportunities for local small and medium enterprises to bid contracts from government-linked companies in the oil and gas industry.

The scheme is also part of the government’s efforts to create a business ecosystem that allows young people to thrive.

His Majesty and other members of the royal family attend the National Youth Day celebration at the International Convention Centre. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/ The Scoop

His Majesty said i-Usahawan entrepreneurs have created about 300 employment opportunities for Bruneian youth.

“This is a clear indication that Bruneian youth can achieve a high level of success.

“In my opinion, the i-Usahawan programme should be extended to the non-energy sectors, especially in the public sector,” he added.

His Majesty visits an exhibition booth at the National Youth Day celebration. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

The sultan said resilience is the key to success, along with quality, character and staying competitive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown youth’s strength and tireless determination to help as volunteers.

“They deserve to be taken as an example when it comes to matters of contributing to the country,” he said.

More than 100 youths volunteered to help people in need during the coronavirus outbreak in Brunei last year, from distributing food supplies to healthcare workers to helping the health ministry battle against COVID-19.

His Majesty further hoped that youth will keep their fighting spirit alive so that they can continue to excel.

His Majesty during the National Youth Day celebration on August 7, 2021. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/ The Scoop

After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the National Youth Day celebration returned with COVID-19 protocols in place at the International Convention Centre.

Eight outstanding youths received awards across four categories for 2020 and 2021 during the Youth Day celebration.

Southeast Asian Games 2019 gold-medalist Mohd Adi Salihin Roslan and Bruneian startup Memori co-founder Chong Chin Yee were named winners of the Excellent Youth Award for 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Hj Abd Mateen Bolkini Hj Ahmad of Young Professionals Network won the Youth Service Award for 2020, while Brunei Darussalam Scouts Association’s Muhd Syahmi Halimshah bagged the same award for 2021.

The 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Youth Leader Award were Al-Huffaz Management founder Hj Mohd Loqman Al Hakim Hj Hamdan and Sekolah Tinggi Perempuan Raja Isteri teacher Kwan Pei Yun, respectively.

In the Outstanding Youth Project Award category, Noorhafizah Hj Rashid of Big BWN Project received the 2020 award for empowering young entrepreneurs, while this year’s award went to Siti Kailene Mohd Jazlan Kashfi for conducting the HIV/AIDS Awareness Programme for Peers and Youth.

Themed “Belia Siaga Masa Depan”, or “Future Ready Youth”, this year’s Youth Day celebration focuses on digital technology, volunteerism, entrepreneurship and leadership.