Contributed by Darussalam Enterprise
Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) is seeking greater participation from established organisations in providing contracts for youth entrepreneurs to gain experience servicing under the i-Usahawan Non-Energy programme.
i-Usahawan was introduced in 2018 for the energy sector under the Department of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office, before being expanded outside the energy sector earlier this year by DARe under the Ministry of Finance and Economy.
As a youth-focussed entrepreneurship development programme, i-Usahawan enables young local business owners to secure their first contract with the government, government-linked companies (GLCs), statutory bodies and other established private corporations.
i-Usahawan Non-Energy currently offers more than 50 business opportunities by eight organisations for youth entrepreneurs to seize, with the first contract under the programme recently awarded by Muara Maritime Services Sdn Bhd (MMS) to Iftikhar Trading Company to provide cleaning services for two years.
DARe’s Head of Business Development and Support Norlela Suhailee said that DARe is closely collaborating with GLCs over strategically ring-fencing contracts for i-Usahawan by potentially pooling together common scopes of work and offering mentorship that can guide i-Usahawan entrepreneurs in their business journey.
“In addition to engaging more established organisations to increase the number of i-Usahawan contracts, we are also exploring if smaller or common services can be pooled together in contracts, which would offer youth businesses more experience and cost-effective procurement,” said Norlela.
Director of Iftikhar Nurfakhriah Kasmi said securing the contract represents a strategic new venture for her business, which initially began in 2015 from home, selling food and providing catering to schools. With the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affecting their food operations, Nurfakhriah decided to explore other avenues, inspired by companies who used i-Usahawan to pivot into new business activities.
“Alhamdulillah, through the i-Usahawan training (DARe bootcamp) I was able to gain the knowledge needed to successfully apply for this tender, and how to structure our expansion into this new venture,” said Nurfakhriah after the official signing ceremony on November 1 at the Design and Technology Building in Anggerek Desa.
Iftikhar will hire 10 local cleaners full-time to execute the contract, which covers cleaning of MMS’ offices and workshops. Recognising the potential of i-Usahawan to build up a quality pipeline of business partners, MMS – a joint venture between Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and German shipbuilder Lürssen Internaval GmbH – has also ring-fenced other contracts for the programme including transportation services and multimedia content.
“We have identified at least 16 opportunities (that can be provided under i-Usahawan) in basic areas as a start,” said MMS Commercial Managing Director Muhammad Noh bin Haji Madali, whose organisation provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul services to Royal Brunei Navy vessels.
“The idea is that our youth can use this platform to start and then go beyond the basic. We see this programme as offering the opportunity to youth businesses to become more competitive, more quality-driven, with the right guidance and mentorship from stakeholders.”
i-Usahawan Non-Energy utilises the online procurement and business matching platform DARe LINKS, where clients can advertise business opportunities for vendors to apply for.
After registering on DARe LINKS, businesses will be able to apply for i-Usahawan opportunities. DARe will also contact aspiring youth entrepreneurs under i-Usahawan to attend a mandatory, fully-sponsored two-week business bootcamp to help them prepare for tendering and business expansion.
DARe will also conduct routine check-ins to ensure i-Usahawan participants receive support during the execution of their contract, which include accessing other DARe initiatives including mentorship, financing, and specialised training.