Besides the government, several private entities including banking institutions have also self-initiated their own programmes with hopes that it could bring the economy closer to its targeted sustainability and sufficiency level.
While they may not directly tied to managing Brunei’s primary resources and production, these institutions strove to become the facilitator for micro-businesses and SMEs, who are currently the key players for Brunei to achieve its vision.
One such organisation would be Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), a financial institution that has continuously supported entrepreneurship through both of its business offerings and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
MSME Account – a corporate banking amenity to facilitate businesses
BIBD’s MSME Current Account is a facility that allows businesses to open up a corporate account with only a minimum balance of $50, which is lower than the $1,000 commonly imposed by banks.
Alongside that, account holders will also be given access to a range of corporate banking facilities and services including financing and digital banking logistics, and other BIBD initiatives such as the SME 360.
The BIBD MSME Account makes it much quicker and easier for MSMEs to begin managing their businesses’ finances through a company account.
This will enable business owners keep their personal finances and business accounts separate, which is an important step in better financial management and governance.
Companies who operate a business account will also have easier access to micro or SME financing as they will have a proper track record that’s able to help them provide valid data for their cash flow statements.
Facilitating FDIs via Asian Desk
The Asian Desk is a one-stop centre established last year to serve the need of foreign direct investors and match them with local MSMEs.
The desk is currently managed by a team of highly-experienced, multi-lingual and dedicated relationship managers who are fluent in multiple languages, and are capable of transacting in additional currencies.
Its establishment was also aligned closely to Brunei’s strategies to get more FDIs, especially in economic clusters beyond the oil and gas industry.
Matchmaking businesses with mentors via Catalyst
BIBD Catalyst is a programme that allows startups and budding entreprenuers to learn the ropes of operating their businesses from established brands, particularly from overseas.
It was developed under a partnership with Darussalam Enterprise with the aim of allowing local businesses a chance to gain a stronger footing and exposure in both the local and international markets.
The main idea of running the programme was to develop high potential enterprises in different industry sectors that can export products beyond Brunei.
The first two cycles of the programme currently focus on developing local fashion names that include Bait-al-Hijab, Rozai Hijab, Mukaku Cosmetics, Mudaser and Mumtaz Collections, under the tutelage of renowned Malaysian brand FashionValet.
Empowering single mothers through BIBDSEED
BIBDSEED is a business empowerment programme to equip single and struggling mothers the necessary skills to start businesses. It is a project operated by BIBD under partnerships with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
Besides teaching them handicrafts, cooking and baking, the programme also teaches them the importance packaging and all the other marketing aspects of businesses.
In a previous report, BIBD’s Head of Government Relations and Special Projects Haji Mohd Yusri Haji Wahsalfelah said that the long-term goal of the programme was to see single mothers becoming independent on their own.
It also aims at making them capable of giving significant contributions to the country’s economic growth, he added.
Since its establishment in 2018, BIBDSEED participants were regularly featured at business exhibitions and expos. The programme had also earned BIBD the “Global Good Governance (3G)” award for women empowerment in Jakarta early this year.
Advocacy to life-long learning for an aspiring future
BIBD ALAF (Advocating Life-Long Learning for An Aspiring Future) is the bank’s funding initiative that gives underprivileged children a chance to bring themselves and their families out of poverty through education.
Established in 2013, the ALAF programme acts an extending hand from the bank to help Brunei achieve its national vision of producing a highly skilled and educated people by 2035.
Students who were selected to be under the programme are provided funds for their school and tuition fees and education materials as well as mentoring and counseling necessities – amongst others. All of these aids were meant to ensure that they can give absolute commitment towards their education.
A notable achievement for BIBD via this programme was its capability to send students overseas – with its first scholar being sent to Egypt to further her studies at the prestigious Al-Azhar University.
As of early this year, more than 200 underprivileged students have become recipients of the education funding programme, which is aimed at producing ‘agents of change’, a generation that could help tackle national challenges and foster further developments to the country.
Waqiuddin Rajak | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN