When Ak Akmal Fakhri Pg Hj Kamaludin (pictured R) called his two young brothers up in the middle of 2016, the 28-year-old, a civil engineer by trade, had an idea that was not altogether new, but at the time, had yet to be really pulled off in Brunei.
As the three gathered together, Akmal suggested: “What do you think about a website where people could buy and sell services?”
Almost bemused – particularly due to fact that neither three knew how to design, let alone code, a website – his brother Fuad (pictured L) responded: “Us? Run a website? What for?”
If you’re a business needing a poster or artwork for a project, but aren’t in a position yet to hire, or outsource to an established designing firm, then Akmal is propositioning; Sribuza might be for you. Or maybe, you need your computer repaired, but are on a budget, and so you’re contemplating going to a freelancer, instead of going to an expensive store.
“We all have skills, that can be turned into services which other people are looking or willing to pay for,” said Akmal. “But there needs to be a platform that connects both provider and receiver. And with the community’s support, that can be Sribuza.”
With a shoe-string budget, the trio, two of who are still in university, launched their website on New Year’s Day.
They forked out $200 to get a short slot on the radio and a got a mention on the online forum Reddit; enough to generate a small buzz that lead to 32 vendors singing up to their site offering just over 50 services including graphic design, computer repairs, photography, tutoring and entertainment.
“We’re almost purely made up of freelancers,” said Akmal. “Anyone who’s looking to leverage the skill they have to do a job that someone is willing to pay for.”
Sribuza is banking on simplicity and ease of use, above all else, to pull freelancers and buyers to the site. Sellers are charged no registration or listing fees – only a percentage of each successful sale – and are required to fill in a simple form listing their name and bank account number which the sale will be credited to.
Buyers, are likewise required to sign up an accounts so they can chat with sellers on the website before placing an order, to make sure expectations about the specifications of the service and the time frame it is delivered by are met.
“The service has to be initiated (within) a week or the agreed date, or the buyer has the right to dispute for a refund,” said Akmal. “Once the buyer pays, we hold the fee until the service is received, before releasing the payment to the seller/freelancer.”
Payments are currently made by online transfer to sribuza’s account, which can be done by using BIBD or Baiduri’s mobile application, with the trio looking to house a dedicated payment gateway on their website in the near future.
On 4 to 6 May, Sribuza – which Akmal points out is one of several historical names that Brunei was once referred to by visiting traders – will make their first public appearance at the Made in Brunei Market Fair at Bridex, and the brothers are relishing the opportunity to make more connections with potential buyers and sellers.
“The truth is that we’re still unknown to most,” says Akmal, who says that his youngest sister, 18-year-old Fazilah, has been handling their Instagram page, which just climbed to a 1,000 followers. “We are doing our marketing online everyday, hoping to get that breakthrough.”
Visit www.sribuza.com to learn more. You can also follow their social media handles @sribuza on Instagram and Facebook.