ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
SME development crucial in diversifying local economy
THE need for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow out of the local markets into the international arena is more urgent than ever before.
SME development is part of the national agenda to diversify its economy away from the oil and gas sector - this is all the more crucial on the back of depressed oil prices.
Oil prices have fallen sharply in 2015 due to lower demand from emerging markets such as China and a global supply glut. According to the World Economic Forum in a March 2016 article, global investment in production and exploration fell from US$700 billion in 2014 to US$550 billion in 2015. As a country, Brunei has had to weather these challenges by cutting public spending and focusing on priority projects.
On a regional level, Brunei is also part of ASEAN’s collective effort to make its SMEs more globally competitive. While SMEs, which account for 96 per cent of businesses in ASEAN, may perform well in their own markets many struggle to integrate into the international supply chain owing to lack of resources and less business capability.
Brunei has launched Darussalam Enterprises (DARe) in January to develop SMEs and raise their contribution to the sultanate’s economy.
Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar, Minister of Energy and Industry Department under the Prime Minister’s Office, said during DARe’s launch that the statutory body will have board members from the private sector.
Two months later, Loo Yau Soon, a Brunei born entrepreneur and venture capitalist, was appointed as CEO of DARe. At that time, he said DARe will run dialogue sessions which cover issues such as SME financing, applying for loans and grants and getting halal certification.
Since being established, DARe has continued to run these sessions with members of the business community and has covered a variety of issues.
In April 2016, DARe opened the Business Support Centre which gives entrepreneurs a central location to seek advice on business process and file their complaints. The centre acts as a single point of access and assistance for business issues that require resolution including following up on delays with regards to submission of applications to government agencies.
In May 2016, the Industry Business Academy was launched to offer programmes that will help entrepreneurs start and run a sustainable business.
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