Five startups secure their first BSP contracts through i-Usahawan

Director of the Visionary Crew Project Muhd Haziq Hj Shaminan (L) signing a contract at BSP's HQ in Panaga for photography and videography services.

Local startups VisionaryCrew Project, Battle Pro Marketing and Management Services, S. B. Kani Company, Jezemm Services and Khayla Zalzi Company signed their first contracts with Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) yesterday under the i-Usahawan initiative.

The five contracts – each three years with potential extensions – cover grass cutting, landscaping, recycling for non-hydrocabon areas and waste as well as event management and videography and photography services.

BSP has now awarded six contracts under i-Usahawan; the first to Syarikat Amira Barakah last March for canteen, cube and vending machine services for BSP’s HQ and a seventh for domestic waste treatment to be announced soon.

BSP’s Managing Director Ceri M. Powell said that she hoped the i-Usahawan vendors – who service the basic quadrant of Brunei Shell Joint Venture (BSJV) contracts – would be able to move onto bigger, more technically challenging contracts in the future.

BSP MD Ceri Powell delivering her opening remarks at the i-Usahawan signing ceremony.

i-Usahawan is a youth entrepreneurship development initiative that offers Rakyat Jati (Bruneian Malay) businesses with owners between 18 and 40-years-old the opportunity to earn their first low-risk contract with the government, government-linked companies (GLC) or statutory bodies.

For three out of the five signing businesses, the i-Usahawan contract will be the first major source of work for their company.

25-year-old Mechanical Engineering graduate Md Muammar Aiman Hj Sharif – who began applying for i-Usahawan while still unemployed – said he would “do his best” to service his company’s grass cutting, regrading and ditch cleaning contract by employing Bruneians.

“Grass cutting isn’t (traditionally) something we Bruneians do ourselves, but I believe with the right incentives and career progression we can attract local youth,” said Md Muammar Aiman of S.B. Kani Company. “Although this is a basic contract, when we do it to the highest standard, we will position ourselves to tap into more opportunities.”

Jezemm Services who will be doing landscaping and horticulture said they would be hiring over 60 staff, including those from the company previously servicing their current contract.

“I have learned a lot from my father who used to operate a landscaping company,” said Jezemm’s Director Mohd Hamizan @ Sufri Suhaili. “This is our first (scope of) work and we want to show that we are capable despite not having the experience.”

Khayla Zalzi Company – who previously focused on selling health and beauty products – said they decided to tender for the recycling waste contract because of their founder’s prior experience in oil and gas.

“My sister has worked in a managerial position in waste management company for an oil and gas company before. So while Kayla Zalzi was (initially) just an online business when we saw the (i-Usahawan) opportunity we wanted to see if we could diversify the company,” said Khayla Zalzi’s Director Siti Rafizah Norudin.

Meanwhile more established startups Battle Pro and Visionary Crew said the i-Usahawan initiative will help close the gap between larger companies, enabling them to competitively compete for small contracts that will help increase their competency.

“We were always looking into these event management contracts (since starting in 2014) for large corporates but it’s quite hard to compete against those who have been in the industry for 10, 20 years,” said Battle Pro’s CEO Hj Syed Mohd Yassin Hj Syed Anayatullah Shah, whose company is best known for organizing some of Brunei’s biggest sales expos.

“The i-Usahawan gives us (smaller companies) a chance to prove ourselves and gain the experience so that we can grow bigger and compete with the best.”

Director of the VisionaryCrew Project Muhd Haziq Hj Shaminan added that their contract for videography and photography would enable their team of six to gain experience in creating content for one of Brunei’s largest companies.

“We have done a lot of coverage for weddings, corporate events but this contract allows us to put our creative skills to use differently and helps us understand what the expectations of a big client are,” said the 29-year-old who started VisionaryCrew in 2012 while still studying in Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

BSP also announced yesterday the launch of a mobile mentoring app that enables Bruneian businesses to be mentored by BSJV professionals. The Mentor With Us app has a matching and chatting functionality and was developed by Nextacloud Technologies.