Encouraging local entrepreneurs to join retail industry

James Kon

‘The Junction’ Retail Entrepreneurship programme was a result of years of development to expand the brand while providing opportunity to locals to enter the retail industry, said Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah.

The Junction started under Ghanim International Corporation Sdn Bhd to promote bruneihalal and local products at strategic locations such as the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) building, Brunei International Airport, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Immigration and National Registration Department and the Ministry of Health (MoH), the minister added during the launch of the programme yesterday.

The minister highlighted the challenges in setting up retail stores including the procurement, accounting and day-to-day running of the store.

“Under the franchise arrangement, we expect individuals who are interested in running the store to come up with some capital. Support will also be provided to ensure sufficient stocks and supplies and detailed training in running the shop. Hopefully through this initiative, more local entrepreneurs will succeed in their businesses,” he said.

The minister said plans to expand The Junction are already underway with several strategic locations identified. Discussions have begun with property owners and other government agencies to create a bigger presence of The Junction.

“We also need to make sure that our products are well received by the public. Ongoing initiatives such as the One Village One Product under the Ministry of Home Affairs, add variety to The Junction platform, while enabling local producers to conduct research and test the market to refine their products.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah presents a mock key to a The Junction franchisee. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“Over time, we hope to see more quality Made-in-Brunei products and eventually reach out to international market.

“Hopefully, the franchisee can use this opportunity to gain experience and finally venture into other businesses on their own without the added support from others. They need to be committed, put in long hours, work hard and willing to learn to ensure success,” he said.

The Junction concept, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, “is flexible depending on the location. Some places might only need a kiosk or a mini mart, while others may have the demand and space for a retail store”.

He added, “The programme is also in line with 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’s Government effort in developing more local entrepreneurs and ultimately reduce unemployment.”

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Ghanim International Corporation Dr Nur Rahman said, “It is in our best interest for The Junction convenience store to operate sustainably and profitably. Our role as the programme company is to facilitate the set-up of the stores and manage the supply of goods to eliminate potential barriers in store operation”.

Business strategy Development Manager Fatin Arifin said, “Local entrepreneurs with good credit record and the capital, either through personal funds or financial institutions, are eligible for the programme. They must be self motivated, disciplined, committed to long working hours and possess good management skills. Successful applicants must also complete capacity building programme with DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) with satisfactory performance.

“There will also be regular engagement, monitoring and proactive mechanism in place, franchise manual providing guideline to operate as well as branding and marketing support”.