President of the Malay Chambers of Commerce (DPPMB) Yang Berhormat Abdul Hamid @ Sabli Arsad, who is also the Chairman of Sabli Group of Companies. Image: Analisa Amu

Brunei’s entrepreneurial scene can benefit from forming cooperatives in order to bolster the capacity of the country’s MSMEs as well as a measure to mitigate the impact of economic crises.

This was said in an interview by the President of the Malay Chambers of Commerce (DPPMB), Yang Berhormat Abdul Hamid @ Sabli Arsad, who is also the Chairman of Sabli Group of Companies.

Speaking to The Bruneian, YB Sabli noted the important role that local MSMEs play in the country’s economy, especially in their contributions to the national revenue.

Based on the Economic Census of Enterprises 2016, conducted by the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), there were 5,158 MSMEs operating in Brunei in 2015, representing 96 per cent of the total private sector businesses.

For illustration purposes: Some of the products sold at the previous BIMP-EAGA Tertiary Industry Showcase. Image: The Bruneian

In the same year, the overall revenue earned by local MSMEs was $8.3 billion, which is about 36 per cent of the overall revenue of the private sector.

“I think that when it becomes to Brunei, we haven’t seen a lot of success stories when it comes to cooperatives therefore the return of investment (ROI) of cooperative to many, is a bit uncertain,” said YB Sabli.

“Understandably, most businesses are looking for a quick ROI, but the benefits of a cooperative extend beyond that,” he added.

According to DPPMB president, aside from the nature of cooperatives in providing its members greater spending and bargaining power, the pooling of risks aspect of business cooperatives, he said, is especially pertinent during times of economic crises.

For illustration purposes: Customers trying out some of the products sold at the previous BIMP-EAGA Tertiary Industry Showcase. Image: The Bruneian

“For entrepreneurs that have been long in the scene, it might be difficult to persuade them on the benefits of a cooperative, but whom I think can make the most out of it, are new businesses and young entrepreneurs,” YB Sabli continued.

He went on to say that in an age where COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and crippled countless businesses worldwide, the business as usual way of operations must be re-evaluated, taking into consideration survivability and not just profit.

“Which is what we at DPPMB are trying to do at the moment. With our 200 members, part of the chambers’ function is to guide youths who are starting their entrepreneurial journey, part of that is to identify and sectorise them into the different industries,” he explained.

For illustration purposes: Moringa plant is grown by a local-based business Mori Farm. Image: The Bruneian

“For those wishing to enter industries which we believe would benefit from forming cooperatives, we will introduce them to the concept, and hopefully they will work towards making it happen,” he added.

YB Sabli concluded that business in this modern age is not just about identifying what has the biggest public demand but to fill in the gaps in the market for the public as well as other businesses. 

“Not only does this serve the needs of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but it will also by default create a ripple effect that will uplift other MSMEs”.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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