Three start-ups selected for Singapore event

Lyna Mohamad

Ameenfarm, Yuwal and Al-Huffaz Management will pitch their business ideas to Singapore-based regional investors after being selected as the top three of 25 start-ups at a pitching session for DARe’s (Darussalam Enterprise) Accelerate Programme.

DARe CEO Javed Ahmad; DARe’s Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (BMEN) mentors Nicky Wong and Jeffrey Low; and Managing Partner of International Markets at Golden Equator Group and DARe’s Accelerate Programme facilitator Adam Flinter attended the pitching at the Design and Technology Building in Kampong Anggerek Desa recently.

Javed Ahmad shared that despite challenging times, businesses should not be discouraged in looking for investments. He highlighted that as long as businesses have good management and can quickly adapt to new norms, these businesses have the potential to get funding as they will be able to perform in both good and bad times.

Ameenfarm is looking to transform their four-hectare farm into an agriculture centre. In his pitch, Ameenfarm founder Haji Irwandy bin Haji Lois shared that he believes agriculture is important to society and there is more awareness on healthy food and organic products.

“However, the concern in Brunei Darussalam is that we do not have enough supply of these. Our farmers are using conventional farming methods and are unable to match the demand,” Haji Irwandy said. His solution is an agriculture centre that provides healthy, zero-pesticide food with modern farming techniques and to educate the public on agriculture.

DARe’s Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (BMEN) mentors Nicky Wong and Jeffrey Low at the pitching session. PHOTO: DARE

Yuwal, short for Your Wallet, is an e-wallet that functions on mobile or as a physical debit card. Yuwal Co-founder and Operations Manager Sim Hau Wei said it was founded in February.

It aims to help people have better control of their financial life by allowing them to categorise their spending, being transparent about hidden transaction fees and the freedom to freeze or unfreeze their card. Sim Hau Wei said they are seeking BND350,000 to finance a year’s operation and bring the product to market.

Established leading provider for Al-Quran education in Brunei Darussalam, Al-Huffaz Management has been around since the first DARe Accelerate Programme and is seeking BND300,000 to expand locally and internationally by developing their online platform to deliver pre-recorded content and host interactive classes.

Al-Huffaz CEO and founder Haji Mohd Loqman Al-Hakim bin Haji Hamdan started the company in 2017 and began with an introduction of how the company started where he said he was a graduate from Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA). One of the things they had to learn was memorise Al-Quran before starting the company. “From being in this institution I realised that the demand for Al-Quran teachers was not being met. When I graduated, I was also met with the problem of no jobs for myself and my colleagues.”

He said his solution was to start a company and provide Al-Quran teachers to the Muslim population in the country. Currently Al-Huffaz caters to 10 per cent of Brunei Darussalam’s Muslim population and is looking to expand.

Adam Flinter in his capacity as one of the judges noted that the current cohort did well and many would be growing into good businesses in the future. “I am proud that this cohort showed strong entrepreneurial spirit because they had to adjust their businesses and their approach, using the time to do user surveys and find ways to make revenue when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.”

He said another positive development was that the pitch attendees are no longer surprised that local start-ups can create interesting ideas and back them up with confident pitches, a testament to the efforts in developing the start-up ecosystem here in the Sultanate.

The three will be pitching their businesses in Singapore along with the top three start-ups from the next cycle once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted. This will be announced via DARe’s social media channels and will allow the opportunity for the public to witness their pitch live to a panel of potential investors.