Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin bin Haji Abdul Hamid yesterday has reiterated Brunei Darussalam’s commitment in highlighting the importance of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country’s economic growth by encouraging businesses to expand and explore as well as venture to new business activities and markets.
Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin emphasised the importance of MSMEs contribution in Brunei’s economy in his remark as the guest of honour at ‘Enterprise Growth Connect: A Forum and Networking Event’ with the theme ‘Empowering Businesses at All Stages of Growth’ that took place at Indera Samudra Grand Hall, The Empire Brunei.
The theme encouraged a more concerted effort to support MSMEs in their economic growth through ensuring that they are well-equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and capabilities to enable them to grow and be more competitive.
The guest of honour, who is also Deputy Co-Chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) revealed that Brunei’s MSMEs are made up of 97.2 per cent of the total number of businesses in the country in 2020; with MSMEs total employment of 30.1 per cent out of the total employed persons in Brunei. Most of the country’s MSMEs are in the Services sector which is 75.7 per cent with the Wholesale and Retail Trade to be the largest economic activity, followed by the Industry sector (21.3 per cent), and the Primary sector (3.1 per cent). In 2020, MSMEs has also made significant contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) which is estimated to be at 31.2 per cent.
The deputy minister said the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), “has initiated the Economic Blueprint for Brunei Darussalam, a national strategy that will support the journey towards becoming a dynamic and sustainable economy”.
“As stipulated within the blueprint, five priority sectors have been targetted for growth, namely: Downstream oil and gas; Food; Tourism; Information and Communications Technology (ICT); and Services. In an effort to further help the development and growth of these priority sectors, MoFE have worked with other ministries and relevant stakeholders in formulating the Industrial Roadmaps and thus far have developed the Food Industry Roadmap; Downstream Oil and Gas Industry Roadmap; and Maritime Trade, Logistics and Services Industry Roadmap.”
He added that the Economic Blueprint and Industrial Roadmaps “has identified the crucial need in developing resilient, productive and thriving businesses capable of harnessing economic opportunities and contributing to the economic aspirations and economic security of the country. Through a whole-of -nation approach and collective efforts from all stakeholders, it is the government’s hope to create new pathways for a more meaningful economic growth, and to move away from a heavy reliance on oil and gas economy”.
“DARe,” he said, “as Brunei’s focal agency for MSME development, has a key role to play, by ensuring that MSMEs are well-equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and capability in order to enable them to grow and be more competitive. DARe continues to provide a variety of programmes and initiatives such as i-Usahawan, and DARe Links, including Elevate programme, that serve as platforms to facilitate and support the growth and development of local MSMEs”.
Business communities especially from large companies, the deputy minister said, “could further contribute to the growth of the private sector by strengthening their linkages to MSMEs by providing opportunities for these enterprises to enter into their value chains consequently providing access to new markets, resources, and expertise, which can lead to increased capability and competitiveness”. With the nation recovering from the pandemic, he said, “It is imperative that we do not become complacent and miss out on the windows of opportunity to drive meaningful business recovery and growth, especially when identifying new market opportunities for internationalisation, investing in digital transformation, encouraging innovation, focussing on sustainability and fostering collaboration to create new business opportunities.”
Meanwhile, DARe aims to ‘Enterprise Growth Connect: A Forum and Networking Event’ to connect entrepreneurs, business owners and industry leaders with the objective of inspiring and driving growth through the support of a community.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BEDB and DARe Daniel Leong, in his welcoming remark, shared that the key objectives of the event were to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of companies under DARe’s growth initiatives and to inspire those still on their entrepreneurial growth journey through the support of a community.
The event aims to serve as a platform for companies to network, find collaboration opportunities, and exchange knowledge from like-minded individuals and experienced industry leaders. A presentation was delivered by DARe’s Head of Business Development and Support Norlela binti Suhailee where she shared DARe’s growth initiatives and the accomplishments of companies under DARe’s purview.
The event also saw a keynote speech given by international guest speaker – the Founder and CEO of IRVINS Irvin Gunawan. IRVINS is an award-winning, gourmet Singaporean salted egg snack that has seen tremendous growth into international markets, venturing as far as Australia, Canada and the United States.
The talk was followed by a panel sharing session on ‘Challenges, Learnings & Wins’, featuring companies under DARe’s growth portfolios which included Commercial Managing Director of Muara Maritime Services Sdn Bhd Muhammad Noh bin Haji Madali; Founder and CEO of Poni Group Sdn Bhd Mohd Tahsin Wong; and Managing Partner of Sapphira Cake House and Cafe Dayangku Hajah Maria Fadhillla binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman.
The event was attended by MSMEs, business associations, government agencies, foreign direct investments (FDIs), government-linked companies (GLCs), and institutions of higher learning (IHLs).