At a busy restaurant in Gadong last week, a young group of 15 – most of whom are meeting each other for the first time – huddled around a long table to spend their Friday night sharing about entrepreneurship.
CEO and founder of Al-Huffaz Managemen Loqman Hamdam, whose business connects over 100 Al-Quran teachers to hundreds of homes, was at the heart of this session, detailing his journey, as the group, a mix of YEAB members and new and aspiring business owners listened intently.
Dubbed the OpenChat, the gathering was organized by the Young Entrepreneurs Association Brunei (YEAB) which was set up in 2000 to support and empower Brunei’s young entrepreneurs with a vision of connecting them to global platforms.
YEAB, who are Brunei’s representatives to the ASEAN Young Entrepreneur Council, the ASEAN Young Entrepreneur Association, the ASEAN China Young Entrepreneur Forum and the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs, are now inviting more Bruneians interested in entrepreneurship to join the association.
“Joining YEAB will open up a whole network of opportunities for entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their businesses beyond Brunei,” said YEAB’s Vice President Fatin Ariffin. “The association provides a platform for expansion through the ASEAN and Commonwealth Asia networks.”
YEAB began very much like the OpenChat sessions they continue to organize to this day – as gatherings offering tried and tested advice from entrepreneurs who have real-world experience in business, and are privy to new business opportunities and are able to share knowledge over business processes from their point of view.
The more intimate chats eventually evolved to the association’s formal registration and then participation to regional and global forums, while retaining a focus on working locally collectively to raise and resolve business issues, offer mentorship and socialize new business opportunities.
“It eventually became a platform for other entrepreneurs to meet each other which then grew into friendships, collaborations and business opportunities,” said Fatin.
To be a full member of YEAB, one must be between 18 to 45, and be a shareholder or owner of a business registered in Brunei. Those in higher learning institutions can apply as student members, while those generally interested in business can join as associate members. Those above 45 can join if they were previously a member of YEAB in some capacity.
Annual membership fees are $50, $100 and $200 for student, full and associate membership respectively. There’s also a $100 registration fee for full and associate members.