United States (US) Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Caryn McClelland yesterday hailed the entrepreneurial drive of Bruneian women.
She made these comments when Brunei’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), funded by the United States (US) Embassy in Brunei Darussalam and facilitated by Darussalam Enterprise (DARe), hosted a graduation ceremony to mark the end of a six-month programme, with the top three businesses awarded USD3,000 each in seed funding.
The event was part of the four-day Brunei MSME Festival 2023, the biggest showcase of local businesses was held at Bridex Hall, Jerudong, yesterday.
Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II and Chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah was as the guest of honour.
US embassy and DARe representatives were also in attendance. McClelland said the graduates were selected out of 164 applicants, which “shows how much entrepreneurial drive Bruneian women have. This cohort has diverse business interests, including food, clothing, packaging, agriculture, and fitness”.
“Their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit demonstrate why we believe in continuing the programme, which combines two key goals: empowering women and assisting Brunei in its economic diversification efforts through entrepreneurship,” the ambassador said.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the BEDB and DARe Daniel Leong said that apart from the AWE programme, some of the graduates from the first cohort participated in the AWE Summit 2023 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“The summit allowed the participants to exchange knowledge and best practices and expand their capacity and network with 200 successful women entrepreneurs,” he said.
Seventeen businesses pitched to a panel of judges comprising Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy Jeff Barrus; Lead Business Counsellor of Shell LiveWIRE Brunei Afiq Mohammed; CEO of Nextacloud Technologies Agus Muslim; founder of Roots Dilys Chai; and founder of Tasanne Fast Food Jia Chee Lee to determine the top three businesses.
The pitching session was held at the main auditorium of the Design and Technology building on February 16. AWE was launched in the Sultanate in October 2021 before the country chaired the ASEAN Summit to support several of ASEAN’s socio-economic goals. The fully sponsored programme kicked off with 30 participants out of 183 applicants. The participants completed 13 business modules through an online training platform called DreamBuilder.
DreamBuilder was designed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and mining company Freeport-McMoRan to guide aspiring entrepreneurs step-by-step in starting and growing their businesses through interactive and practical content that includes tools and templates. AWE is open to Brunei-based women entrepreneurs aged 18 to 40 who are in the early stages of starting and running a business and have limited business background or training.