File photo of a a female business owner from the Gadong night market operating during the first outbreak of COVID-19 last year.

Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) is partnering with the US Embassy to launch the global Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) programme in Brunei for the first time in October 2021. 

AWE will provide fully-sponsored training and mentoring for several months to women starting up their own businesses through an 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. 

Participants will undertake 13 modules taking approximately 30 hours to complete under the programme with the assistance of DARe facilitators.

30 women are expected to make up the first cohort of AWE, which 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.  

With AWE now in more than 50 countries since its launch in 2019, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Emily Fleckner said the well-tested programme will be a “perfect fit” for Brunei.

“The U.S. Embassy is delighted to collaborate with DARe to launch AWE,” said Fleckner. “This programme directly supports Brunei’s ASEAN chairmanship and its ASEAN socio-cultural community deliverables to advance gender equality and empower women by helping bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.

“Women entrepreneurs can be powerful engines of economic growth and development, which in turn promotes healthy societies.” 

Meanwhile DARe’s CEO Javed Ahmad said the AWE programme will help complement DARe’s existing capacity-building initiatives that are currently being held virtually during the ongoing second wave of COVID-19. 

“The AWE programme has a strong track record of helping women-owned business in different countries in a diverse range of sectors,” said Javed. “The targeted audience of AWE and access to international mentors also offers opportunities for greater synergy amongst its participants in tackling barriers that they face in starting, running and growing their own businesses.” 

The CEO added 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

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.

AWE is open to Brunei-based women entrepreneurs between 18 to 40-years old who are in the early stages of starting or running a business and have limited business backgrounds or training. 

Participants must commit to spending at least four hours a week for three months for the programme’s content. Registration is open online through until October 11, 2021.