Shining the spotlight on local products

Azlan Othman

DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) recently held its first showcase for Bruneian Made, a key initiative that aims to facilitate micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with marketable products to fill retail spaces.

The event served as a platform to promote and provide exposure of MSME products (formerly called as Made in Brunei), while raising awareness of the initiative.

The event also saw the launch of the re-branded Unexpected Treasures, now known as Bruneian Made Finest, an online platform that sells medium- to high-end local products through an e-commerce portal, accessible for local and international buyers.

Since its launch in 2017, the Bruneian Made initiative has recorded an encouraging increase in participation by local businesses, from 10 MSMEs with 29 products to 28 MSMEs with more than 130 products at 11 major supermarkets under the Bruneian Made Supermarket Shelf initiative, two retail shops, three hotels and one shopping complex for the Bruneian Made Finest.

The Bulletin spoke with some of the entrepreneurs featured at the showcase.

Mohammad Vol bin Haji Momin, the owner of Lanun Hot Sauce called his products spicy.

Permanent Secretary (Industry) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina binti Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani at the first Bruneian Made Mini Showcase. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN
Some of the products available at the showcase

The recipe was made 10 years ago, he said, adding that “I created the recipe when I was studying in the United Kingdom (UK) by combining hot sauce recipes from the United States (US) and Southeast Asia”.

It was introduced only to family members and acquaintances before it became popular through word of mouth.

“My daughter was the one who suggested commercialising the hot sauce,” he said.

He noted, “The response among the younger generation is encouraging. And for Bruneian Made products under DARe initiative, we also introduced pineapple and tom tom (a mixture of tomato and torch lily or bunga kantan and lemongrass).”

Meanwhile, Abdul Qawi bin Haji Sulaiman from Syarikat Iman Putera has been making bidara (a fruit-producing small tree that grows in dry areas) products in the form of soap, shampoo and other toiletries since 2013.

However, he only began showcasing his products through DARe’s Bruneian Made products in 2017.

“As most of bidara products in the country come from Malaysia and Indonesia, we want to be the first in Brunei to make this.

“The products are processed in Kampong Penanjong in Tutong. We sourced our ingredients locally as we planted bidara trees in our backyard,” shared Abdul Qawi, adding that bidara is beneficial to people with skin problems.

“I wish to export these products someday,” he added.

Alassarir Othman from Rizqussalam, on the other hand, has been offering traditional ready-to-eat food products called sambal tahai (fish paste) and sambal pusu (anchovies paste) since 2008.

“Initially, we sold our products at cube stores before placing it under Bruneian Made products at over 30 major supermarkets in the country,” said Alassarir. “The response has been very overwhelming.”

“We used to get our Tahai fish from Limbang, Lawas. But since we require it in big quantities, we now source it locally from the Muara fish landing site. We grill the fish (which takes four to five days) and process it on our own at Kampong Sinarubai. We produce 2,000 packets of ready-to-eat paste monthly and plan to add more pastes besides the current Tamban, Aur-Aur fish and squid.”

The enterprising locals made their first forays overseas by joining an ASEAN fair in South Korea, Tampines Hari Raya Bazaar in Singapore and China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, China.

Alassarir said Bruneian products are well-received overseas and with a number of them sold-out during the expo in China.