‘Bekarih. Bejarih. Belurih’

You’ve heard the calls for Brunei’s youth to change their mindest. Meet Generasi Bekarih, the social enterprise looking to do something about it

18-year-old Muhammad Aqil Sapawi is back for his third self-development programme by Generasi Bekarih this weekend. Of his own volition, he traveled from Tutong to the Sg Kebun Sports Complex where the  Youth Career Leadership Camp (YCLC) is being held, bunking at the athlete’s dorm from Friday to Sunday.

A HnTec student in business and finance at IBTE’s Sultan Bolkiah in Seria, Aqil was previously quite timid, but like the 24 youth participating – are contending with the uncertainty of what they will do once they graduate – and are here at YCLC hoping to do something about it.

“In today’s job market we must be prepared,” said Aqil. “We must know how to write CVs, behave in interviews and learn how to start our own businesses.”

Earlier this week at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation’s Hari Raya celebrations, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam urged jobseekers to start businesses and to be open to taking up jobs in the private sector.

It’s not the first time he has made the call – on the occasion of the Sultanate’s 25th National Day, he said a change in mindset and attitude was needed, and later in that year on the occasion of his 69th birthday back in 2015 said: “Brunei must immediately make a shift in mindset: From preferring to wait and sit idly to working hard; from being reliant to showing more initiative, and from being less independent to more independent.”

As of yesterday evening, JobCentre Brunei listed unemployed jobseekers at 9,083 – but it’s important to note that this figure only captures the unemployed who have registered with the agency. The downturn in oil and gas prices in 2015 were mooted by analysts as the initial reason behind rising unemployment. There’s a multitude of measures and factors to contend with in improving the economy – and subsequently the job market – but a fundamental question still goes unanswered: how exactly do you go about changing a nation’s mindset

Perhaps it’s parenting, or the education system, maybe even the government’s responsibility – but while the experts grapple away for a solution, the founders of Generasi Bekarih, a social enterprise focusing on youth personal development, are busy chipping away with a simpler – though not necessarily easier – approach.

“It starts with you as a person,” says the co-founder of Generasi Bekarih Syukri Jamil. “If we are faced with a challenging situation – we must start believing that it is our personal responsibility to do something about it. We cannot sit on the sidelines, just waiting for things to get better.”

Since registering officially in September last year, Generasi Bekarih has held camps for 300 youth, bringing in coaches in fields from business to religion to help youth discover their purpose and claim ownership over their future. Bekarih, bejarih and belurih – distinctly Bruneian terms – make up their motto.

Bekarih is having the will to do something, bejarih means to work hard for it and belurih is when you reap the rewards of what you’ve put in,” says Syukri, who works full-time for an IT company.

Co-founder of Generasi Bekarih Syukri (R) with Ustaz Pg Abdul Basit during YCLC. Generasi Bekarih holds regular outreach to schools and community centers and has been hosting camps on a monthly basis.

“In the camps, we always start off with the why: I believe we all want something better – but where does that come from? Is it our desire to fulfill our talents or to provide for our families? Understanding our why will allow us to be in the right frame of mind and give us the push we need to get up and get started. From there we give them the tools – for YCLC for example that’s bringing in experts to teach you how to write a CV, how to conduct yourself in an interview, how to start your own business.”

Syukri began working with Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services’ while still a student HND in Network Engineering from Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) and within 18 months rose to be their operations manager leading the organization of some of Brunei’s largest sales events.

But the 27-year-old, along with his co-founder Hanis Othman – a self-described reformed delinquent he met while on UTB’s student council – sought to go deeper to effect change and set up Generasi Bekarih as a movement that could help empower youth to change their mindset.

Though not state-funded, their programmes remain widely accessible: this weekend’s YCLC was a paltry $25, and their most popular programme, the Leaders Foundation Camp just $45. Both covered food and accommodation for three days.

Other small businesses, who see the wider value of the movement and are keen to give back, have sponsored food and refreshments, while Youth and Sports Department of Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports have allowed them to use their facility rent-free. The founding duo have also committed to undergo training to receive formal accreditation to be able to vie for contracts with corporate and higher education institutions for personal development courses.

In the short-term however, Generasi Bekarih – who’ve registered as a commercial training entity – will not be the most profitable endeavor.

“For us it is the social impact,” said Hanis (pictured below). “We’ve seen participants start their own small businesses. Others are more confident in school and in the workplace. They know times are difficult. But we have a plan, a vision they are heading towards. Now we must step forward into action: it’s time to bekarih and bejarih.”

For the latest updates visit generasibekarih.com or follow @generasibekarih on Instagram and Facebook. To get in touch directly contact +6738957487. Pictures for this story are courtesy of Generasi Bekarih.