DARe to increase MSME mentorship by upskilling mentors

The Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network has grown to 78 mentors with 485 mentoring engagements recorded

BMEN anniversary
Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Dr. Awg Hj Abd Manaf (centre, second row from top) with BMEN mentors and other senior DARe representatives at a virtual event to mark BMEN's third anniversary.

Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) is looking to upskill more business mentors as they target to host more than 20 mentoring activities for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under the Brunei Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (BMEN) by March 2023.

Seventeen BMEN mentors recently completed a two-day mentoring training sponsored by DARe and conducted by award-winning mentor Kerrie Dorman, who is the founder of the UK’s Association of Business Mentors.

BMEN offers voluntary mentorships to MSMEs by leading businesspeople, professionals, and subject matter experts based in Brunei to provide guidance and insight into different areas of business.

To complement the use of the BMEN online platform where mentees can connect directly with mentors, DARe has hosted up to six different types of group and individual mentoring activities to foster more mentorship engagements.

Since its launch in March 2019, BMEN has recorded over 485 mentoring engagements; offering a pool of 78 mentors approved by DARe, with 173 mentees registering.

DARe Project Manager for BMEN Hariz Khalid said more cycles of the mentor training would be held, which covers a general overview of mentoring; provides insight into how to mentor based on a mentee’s background and disposition; as well as live mentoring practice.

“While BMEN’s mentors are accomplished in their respective fields, mentor-specific training focuses on communication and interpersonal skills, which will help bridge the gap in mentor’s ability to guide mentees with their existing expertise, experience, and knowledge,” said Hariz.

“As we continue to upskill mentors, we will also continue to build up the BMEN community; by regularly hosting activities to increase awareness of the value of mentorship and the platform to MSMEs.”

BMEN speed mentor
Founder of VHC, business consultant and BMEN mentor Lenny Juvena (R) mentoring an entrepreneur during a speed mentoring event in May 2021. With the pandemic limiting in-person interactions, BMEN has shifted most of its mentoring events and activities online.

BMEN shifts mentoring engagements online during pandemic

BMEN’s mentoring activities include mentor clinics – where MSMEs can drop in to seek counsel from mentors with specific areas of expertise; speed mentoring – where mentees can individually meet a wider group of mentors in quick sessions to test their compatibility; and virtual mentor circles – where a group of mentees meet regularly with an assigned mentor online, which has become increasingly popular during the pandemic.

“The group setting (of virtual mentor circles) has helped to realise commonly-faced issues brought about by the pandemic, and made us realise that we were not alone in facing these challenges,” said local pizza chain Tasconi’s International Operations Director and BMEN mentee Syarifah Safina Malai Hamid.

“From there we were able to progress to one-on-one mentoring sessions, where we identified weak points and our mentor was able to help us clear up our direction for us to focus again on specific areas.”

At a virtual BMEN appreciation ceremony on March 28 with mentors to mark the platform’s three-year establishment, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr. Awg Hj Abd Manaf Hj Metussin said knowledge transfer through mentorship can help contribute to a more productive and vibrant business ecosystem, a key priority under the Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint.

“Small business owners need plenty of support in order to succeed – be it financial, operational or emotional support. Business mentorship is one of the most practical ways in which we can guide our local MSMEs to brave the challenges that they are bound to face in their journey,” he said in his address as guest of honour.

BMEN is implemented by DARe in collaboration with Brunei’s ASEAN Business Advisory Council, and is the local arm of the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network.

MSMEs and prospective mentors looking to register or learn more about BMEN can visit bruneimentors.com.