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 launched the i-Usahawan programme on August 1, 2018 in conjunction with the 13th National Youth Day celebrations.
Since its inception, the programme has been providing opportunities for aspiring young entrepreneurs to participate in low-risk (ring-fenced) contracts or tenders.
The programme, which began with 30 contracts from the oil and gas industry, has grown to the current 42, ranging from the government sector, government-linked companies (GLCs) and statutory bodies. The awarded contracts are run and managed by locals, from the owners to the management to the employees.
The i-Usahawan, initiated by the Ministry of Energy, continues to be spearheaded by the ministry to support the national efforts in realising the Brunei Vision 2035 goals of enhancing the economy and developing local capability by prioritising local business participation in the energy sector.
Through the programme, entrepreneurs will undergo training on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) facilitated by the Energy Business Academy, managed by the Brunei Shell Joint Venture (BSJV) companies, and the Industry Business Academy, under the purview of DARe (Darussalam Enterprise).
Among the modules featured are: procurement process, human resource management, government tendering process, and health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) management.
The entrepreneurs are also encouraged to attend DARe programmes such as the Micro Bootcamp and Start-Up Bootcamp.
The programme reached a milestone on March 6, 2019 when it signed with three local businesses. Syarikat Amira Barakah was awarded a contract to provide Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd with a canteen and vending machines, while Munch BrunchCanteen and Mortar Events were awarded contracts to provide cleaning and event management services respectively for Brunei Gas Carriers Sdn Bhd, which were then followed by 11 more contracts, according to the ministry.
Through the 14 contracts, over 170 locals have found employment. During the contract execution period, the entrepreneurs were given mentorship to assist in the development of their businesses and entrepreneurial skills, as well as to ensure challenges faced are managed strategically.
The ministry also carries out continuous monitoring of the developments of these businesses through quarterly engagements with the entrepreneurs and contract owners.