30 Brunei-based businesswomen have been selected to be the first cohort of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), which will provide training, mentorship and funding over a period of six months.
AWE is a worldwide initiative of the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as part of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative.
The US Embassy in Brunei selected Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) to implement the programme utilising the online training platform called DreamBuilder. At the conclusion of the course, participants will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas, with the top three standing a chance to receive up to US$3,000 each in seed funding.
During the virtual launch of AWE yesterday, Manager at DARe’s Enterprise Programme Diana Ramli said the first cohort had been selected from 186 applicants based on the potential of their businesses and their commitment to undergo the programme which includes taking 13 modules requiring approximately 30 hours to complete.
The 30 participants are entrepreneurs with early-stage businesses in the sectors of food and beverage, graphic design, fashion, education and information services.
DARe CEO Javed Ahmad said that graduates of AWE in Brunei will have the opportunity to enroll to the DARe’s business bootcamps and access their ecosystem of business development initiatives which include financing, consultancy, certification, and space.
U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Emily Fleckner said the overwhelming response to the programme – which has been implemented in 53 countries since 2019 – was a testament to the entrepreneurial drive of Bruneian women.
She added that the launch also supports Brunei in its ASEAN chair year by advancing a mutual goal of empowering women to help drive economic prosperity.
“AWE directly supports several of ASEAN’s economic and socio-cultural deliverables, including promoting investment, financial literacy, gender equality, and the empowerment of women,” said Fleckner during the launch.
Javed added in his address that the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 has also posed challenges for women entrepreneurs who have to balance duties at home, running a business, and for some, continuing full-time work.
“In Brunei Darussalam, on top of a regular job, many women started their own businesses to supplement their income, but for some of you, this is your full-time commitment – on top of being a mother, a wife, a daughter or a sister. We admire you for the courage and determination to give this your full-time commitment,” said Javed.
The DreamBuilder utilised by AWE was designed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management as an online business training programme that guides aspiring entrepreneurs step-by-step in starting and growing their businesses through interactive and practical content that includes tools and templates.
DARe will assist the participants in creating a viable business plan by undertaking the courses on DreamBuilder which include marketing, product design, sales generation, accounting, and management.