18 emerging Brunei F&B businesses to grow with DARe’s Elevate programme

Elevate looks to grow local businesses in specific sectors across five years with specialised consultancy and developmental initiatives

DARe CEO Javed Ahmad (8th L) and DARe management with participating businesses making up the first cohort of Elevate.

18 emerging Brunei food and beverage (F&B) businesses are set to grow with specialised consultancy and access to business development initiatives under the first cohort of Darussalam Enterprise’s (DARe) new Elevate programme.

The local businesses will be split between Singapore-based Consulus and USCI Consulting Group from Malaysia who have been appointed by DARe for their proven track record in helping companies grow with consultancy focused on strategic innovation and regional expansion.

DARe CEO Javed Ahmad said that Elevate looks to address challenges and opportunities faced by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that have already stared, received traction but are looking to grow further.

These challenges include getting services and products ready for export, accessing market information and opportunities as well as financing. Each cohort will focus on developing local businesses in different industry sectors.

Elevate will see the selected companies be monitored and supported by DARe for five years beginning with the first phase; a three to six month business review by consultants who will conduct a “deep dive” analysis into each business to identify gaps and opportunities for growth and develop a strategic roadmap for them to follow through.

DARe Senior Manager and Elevate Lead Nurul A’in Hj Jaafar said the subsequent phases would be dependent on the business’ respective roadmaps, but the overall structure will cover business coaching, mentoring, internationalisation, technology and funding.

Specific topics within these broader areas include market intelligence, franchise development and export facilitation.

Elevate participants can also expect to have access to DARe initiatives including standards consultancy, financing, corporate linkages and other local and international market access. In turn, participants are expected to set annual growth targets and commit to achieving their own milestones.

Healthy fast food outlet Fuel’d, which started in 2018 as a collaboration between The Healthy Habit and Chef Shaz, hopes to work with consultants on how to expand their reach with a leaner approach while also being an environmentally conscious operation.

“We are currently operating in two locations (Kiulap and Serusop) and are planning a third (outside Brunei-Muara by next year),” said Fuel’d’s co-founder Shazrinah Shazali.

“But (branch) expansions can be very capital intensive so we want to explore what cost-effective ways are out there in terms of scaling the business (over the next few years).”

Fuel’d is also sourcing their produce locally where possible and has also started donating all vegetable waste for composting. Shazrinah believes environmental initiatives should not detract from business growth and is looking to develop a “360 degree” business model that gives back to the community and the environment.

Meanwhile Brunei’s first local pizzeria Tasconi’s is hoping Elevate will strengthen their current restrategisation towards manufacturing frozen and ready-made food.

Siblings Syarifah Safinatul Najah Malai Hj Abdul Hamid and Syed Ismail Faris – whose parents started Tasconi’s 25 years ago – shared that they have procured a factory at DARe’s industrial site in Serambangun and are in the process of getting the necessary international certifications that will enable their product to be exported.

“We’ve invested significantly to bring in new technology and SOP (standard operating procedures) to ensure the (frozen and ready-made) food will taste fresher,” said Safina. “We also have an agreement with Ghanim (bruneihalalfoods) to supply frozen pizzas which is also picking up (in order volume).”

The cost of Elevate is largely borne by DARe, with participating businesses paying a token registration fee to demonstrate shared commitment.

Consulus has previously served Brunei clients including BIBD and DST while consulting for renowned international companies such as Sony.

USCI has worked with private and public organisations in eight countries, specialising in Blue Ocean strategy which focuses on innovating to capture untapped markets.

According to DARe’s website, Elevate is open to locally owned businesses operating for at least two years with a revenue of at least $100,000 annually and has demonstrated increased revenue in previous years.

Businesses can contact program.elevate@dare.gov.bn or +6732384830 ext. 233 for more information.

Watch: Elevate’s first cohort share their aspirations