Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Determined, passionate and self-driven are what best describe Noorhafizah Rashid – the person behind the local brand Big BWN Project.

The legal background woman entrepreneur who is better known as Fisha left her day job and decided to take the leap of faith when no one else believes in her vision but herself.

She believes in developing skills and talents of youth in the local community by providing them the platform they never had, encouraging self-sustainability and entrepreneurship.

Back in 2015, she organised her first-ever event which was a huge out-in-the-park cookout event involving local food vendors who are home-based businesses, utilising on social media platforms to market their products.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The idea behind the brand which was previously known Big Bwn Cookout is to make Brunei big. Her team that started out as a team of two has worked with numerous agencies and individuals since the debut.

“We’ve worked with the youth, entrepreneurs, home-based businesses… We worked a lot for community development and most of what we do is to help develop many different local skills, products, talents of these young people so that they become sustainable,” she said.

Before coming up with the event, where does Fisha find participating vendors, one might ask. It is no other than through social media platforms.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

She discovered creators and makers of scrumptious wings, delicate cupcakes and ice-creams, mouth-watering home-made burgers, all via the fast-growing Instagram and Facebook.

“At that time there was a huge boom of social media businesses, they do not have other platforms apart from FB and IG. So, we saw the opportunity to create the opportunity for them to meet their customers physically, gain more exposure to get market validation, and build their products,” said the 29-year-old self-starter.

Little that she knew the response was positive and that hundreds thronged Jubilee Park where she held the event. “We didn’t expect the response was really good and people kept asking (for next events) and we kept on doing after,” she said. 

It is not just about coming up with events, inviting vendors to participate and wait for the crowd to come; active interaction with all stakeholders is also important.

By doing that, it helps the event management company to know what the people want and thanks to people’s feedbacks, its has ventured out to do different things.

Following the success of the first event, the establishment then conducted many activities that revolve around food and beverage before deciding to explore into the arts, creatives, fashion and sports.

“After our Street Fest event, we saw a lot of underexposed youth and now we cater not just home-based businesses or entrepreneurs but to the whole national youth development concept,” said Fisha, adding that the company has rebranded to ‘Big BWN Project’ last year.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“We have people like athletes, designers, musicians… we help them build their skills and have added values. If when needed, they can be self-sustainable and build a strong pool of human resource,” said the founder.

Big BWN Project brand does not restrict themselves to holding events or festivals for businesses to showcase and sell their products but also business sharing session among women entrepreneurs.

The initiative, which was co-founded with the owner of Kg Ayer-based homestay Kunyit 7 lodge Dk Kemariah Pg Duraman and the managing director of Flux O. S. Supna Rania Karwanamurthi, aimed to empower, educate and encourage women to be entrepreneurs.

Moreover, in a bid to inspire women in the community to diversify into various industries, be self-sufficient and pro-business, the YSEALI Professional Fellows Progamme alumnus also founded the initiative dubbed ‘Womennovation Brunei’.

“For this, it is about empowering women through the development of innovative ideas and solutions in Brunei and beyond. Basically, those women who innovate or make things using their hands like woodwork, craftwork, machineries…” said Fisha.

What inspires and drives her to come up with initiatives that promote women is that women too can create all of the things that people think they cannot.

“I’ve met so many women who have so much skills but nobody wants to talk about it…” said the young entrepreneur.

For Fisha, making profits is not her primary objective but to focus on community development through entrepreneurship and projects in Brunei.

Big BWN Project has always been keen to work with other organisations as they aspire to promote inclusivity, creating and building things together where everybody can benefit from it.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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