Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Focus on ‘green’ recovery

Hakim Hayat

Post-pandemic recovery needs to include a focus on the global sustainability or ‘green’ agenda, 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 during Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD)’s SME360 Series yesterday.

The minister said that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play an increasingly important role as the nation moves towards economic diversification, and highlighted the struggle that many MSMEs faced during the recent pandemic, with more than half of firms projecting revenue losses of at least 50 per cent, according to a survey conducted by Darussalam Enterprise (DARe).

Nevertheless, as the world begins to enter the new norm, MSMEs should look at how they can now contribute, not just to the economy, but to social and environmental impact, said the minister. He said as COVID-19 leaves many MSMEs in the red, there is a misconception that there is little incentive to go green.

“This mindset can and must change. No matter the size of your business, the momentum towards sustainability is gathering pace,” he said. Consumer priorities have shifted due to the global health crisis, said the minister, adding that the demand for businesses to be more eco-conscious is gaining traction.

“Becoming more sustainable also differentiates your businesses, creating value and brand reputation and goodwill,” the minister said.

In Brunei, 97.3 per cent of Brunei enterprises are MSMEs, he added.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew shared that embedding sustainability into business practices “does not have to include a costly overhaul of existing processes”, provided that it is done intelligently by developing a sustainability programme in line with the organisation’s financial viability.

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 speaks at the forum. PHOTO: SIM YH

“Do remember that no matter the size of your business, never underestimate the impact you can make. Saving the world will not happen overnight but you can start now by making small, sustainable changes in your business ecosystem,” he said, urging participants to explore and implore initiatives to get others to do the same.

Prior to delivering the closing keynote speech, the minister advised local MSMEs to explore opportunities for growth beyond the Sultanate’s borders.

“This is an opportunity to share what we all have done as a country, both private and public sectors, and how we can continue to work together to improve our economy and to create more jobs for our future generations.”

The SME360 Series was first launched by BIBD in January 2022, as part of the SME 360 brand refresh, building the brand equity for these services, strengthening their role as service providers, and extending the relentless support towards the MSMEs.

The SME360 provides a strong and engaging platform with a network of stakeholders, counterparts, and experts to share best practices, discuss common challenges and identify opportunities to build back stronger in a sustainable manner.

At the forum’s opening session earlier, BIBD Acting Managing Director and CEO Hajah Noraini binti Haji Sulaiman shared that the SME360 series has managed to cover 10 different sectors, with more than 1,683 attendees participating in the series, along with 153 speakers and 11 moderators, representing 142 organisations.

Sharing the feedback received from attendees, 99 per cent have said that they see value in organising the forum as a regular event, with 91 per cent rating the session excellent or above average.

In view of the overwhelmingly positive feedback, Hajah Noraini said BIBD is committed to continue the SME360 Series as a regular event, to allow local businesses to look forward to the series as a fixed programme in BIBD’s calendar.

Echoing the sentiments in the minister’s closing keynote, Hajah Noraini also urged small businesses to look into how they can integrate sustainability principles and practices within their business culture, and understand the emerging opportunities and relevant to MSMEs.

She said, “Throughout each forum, the theme ‘Building back stronger and more sustainably’ has resonated constantly to highlight the fact that actions by businesses, corporate clients, as well as individuals are crucial to ensuring that we can pass on a planet that is livable and sustainable to our children, their children and our future generations.”