The Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (BMEN) has recorded over 300 mentoring engagements by established business people and leading professionals to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) since its establishment in March 2019.
BMEN is being implemented by Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) in close collaboration with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council of Brunei (ASEAN-BAC Brunei), and falls under the wider ASEAN Mentorship For Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).
BMEN is a free mentoring platform for MSMEs and can be accessed through both its online matching portal (Mentor Link) and by joining the continuous series of in-person mentoring events hosted by DARe.
BMEN’s mentor pool has grown from 17 to over 70 Brunei-based business owners, professionals and experts who collectively offer a wide range of business-related expertise including innovation, marketing, finance, strategy, auditing, project management and human resources.
DARe CEO Javed Ahmad said at a recent BMEN appreciation event that the growth of mentors and engagements is a positive development that should be further nurtured, with those having successfully established themselves in the field of business giving back to those who may be at an earlier stage in their entrepreneurial journey.
“Even through the COVID-19 pandemic the mentors remain committed to helping with group and individual mentoring taking place virtually (over Zoom).”
DARe also awarded the programme’s five most active mentors with a Star Mentor Award: Co-founder of Bake Culture and Pan & Wok Nicky Wong, Co-founder of VHC company Lenny Juvena Azmi, Managing Director of BizAdvise Ambrose Nathan, UK-ASEAN Business Council Director Allen Lai and Progresif Chief of Corporate Strategy Johan Johar.
Berjaya Aman Executive Hilmi Hazwan, an emerging business offering HSE consultancy and training, said Johan’s mentorship has enabled their company to gain a long term view and develop strategic plans for the next three to five years.
“With Brunei establishing the Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA) and the progress of new industries we see a market opportunity in providing HSE (consultancy and training),” said Hilmi.
“However we still had challenges in developing a strategic roadmap for the company’s long-term journey. Johan guided us to think and analyse more deeply; how would we sustain and grow the business over the next few years? How do we build awareness of HSE so that we can market our services to the right audience more effectively? And how would we manage our team (employees) if we grew?”
Johan, whose experience includes seven years with Darussalam Assets overseeing government-linked companies, said MSMEs should leverage off different mentors to address specific gaps they face.
“You would be hard pressed to find a mentoring programme with such a wide pool of mentors willing to help without charge,” he said.
“Most of my experience comes from (corporate) strategy; so my mentorship focuses on helping the mentees think about their business in a wider scale. As a small business, it is easy to get very caught up in the day-to-day operations, forgetting how the (short-term) can fit into a wider, long-term plan for growth.”
138 businesses have registered online for BMEN, with DARe hosting seven complementing mentorship activities to support the programme offline, including group mentoring, mentoring over specific issues (mentor clinic) and mentee sharing sessions.