Singapore’s Golden Equator Group (Golden Equator) announced its expansion into Brunei yesterday, following the SGD24.6 million strategic investment it received in April 2019 led by serial entrepreneur-investor Taizo Son along with individual investors from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, including Brunei.
The expansion will see three of the group’s businesses established – Golden Equator Wealth (GEW), Golden Equator Consulting (GECo), and potentially SPECTRUM – in Brunei. The group has also appointed Aziemah binti Abdullah as Country Head who will spearhead the group’s in-market expansion activities in Brunei.
GEW will focus on educating and providing Ultra-High-Net-Worth (UHNW) families and individuals in Brunei with a more holistic approach to wealth and legacy preservation. The expansion into Brunei is also part of its efforts to deepen understanding of the ‘family office’ concept and its relevance for the UHNWs in Asia.
Founder and Group CEO of Golden Equator Shirley Crystal Chua said, “From our conversations with Bruneian families, we understand that there’s a desire to understand proper wealth management and legacy preservation. There is also an encouraging interest in initiatives that involve the next-generation members of these families, which shows that the older generations are starting to plan how to pass down the family business and wealth to their children (NextGens) to manage.”
In May 2019, GEW officially launched its NextGen Programme.In 2019, GEW also launched Family Office 2.0: Beyond Wealth Management.
Since 2018, GECo has been working with DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), Brunei’s national SME agency, to facilitate the learning bootcamps that help equip Bruneian startups with the core business skillsets while providing them with access to networks and international exposure.
GECo has completed three startup bootcamps (Accelerate) and microbusiness bootcamps (The Micro Bootcamp) in Brunei, and will be conducting seven more in the next two years.
GECo has also facilitated several partnerships for Singapore and Brunei startups that led to the expansions of their different businesses including Vault Dragon with BloodKad and Glints with Grominda.
Consequently, Vault Dragon has successfully expanded into Brunei working with BloodKad, and together, they are in discussions with the Brunei Government for a potential national initiative.
Community-focussed workspace SPECTRUM is currently in discussions with Brunei’s government agencies to potentially set up a workspace that drives community-building and collaborations. Such collaborations aim to grow Brunei’s startup ecosystem by leveraging on the extensive regional network of SPECTRUM’s parent, Golden Equator Group.
The SPECTRUM expansion also aims to draw more entrepreneurs from Borneo into Brunei, transforming Brunei into an entrepreneurship hub and allows startups to be part of a regional innovation ecosystem. This ecosystem will provide these startups with access to a wider network of investors and partners, allowing regional market exposure and collaboration opportunities for growth.
Launched in 2018, SPECTRUM recently signed partnerships with similar workspaces in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, and Korea. Besides the Brunei government agencies, SPECTRUM is currently also in discussions with potential partners in Dubai and Korea to set up a presence in these countries.
As part of its commitment to further its relationships in Brunei and to lead the group’s in-market expansion activities, Golden Equator has appointed Aziemah binti Abdullah as the Country Head for Brunei in November 2019.
Aziemah has strong networks and insights on the business and operating landscape in Brunei.
Aziemah now leads the development strategies for Golden Equator’s businesses entering Brunei, helping with the establishment and expansion of their footprints in the country.
“There are many aspects of the group’s businesses that will benefit Brunei’s UHNW families, private and public companies, and startups. More importantly, I am excited to leverage the strength of the group to contribute to the financial knowledge development, growth of Brunei’s startup ecosystem, and help companies be future-ready through the adoption of technology,” she said.
“Our expansion into Brunei marks our commitment to the development of Brunei’s startup ecosystem and is an example of ecosystem-building in the region via Singapore. This means we will be able to continue using Singapore as a base to build other nodes in the region, connecting the different markets to build an even stronger business environment. Our strategic investment in 2019 from an international group of investors with strong influence and network in their respective market was an intentional decision to strengthen our touchpoints in these markets,” said Shirley Crystal Chua.
CEO of DARe Javed Ahmad said, “We have been working with Golden Equator for the past few years, and with their successful track record in building startup ecosystems and helping startups grow regionally, I welcome the group’s initiatives. The group also possesses strong finance, wealth management, and legacy planning capabilities, which we need to grow and establish the necessary infrastructure in Brunei. I look forward to their contributions in building the finance and innovation ecosystems here, working closely with the public and private sectors in reaching our Vision 2035 goals of diversification.”