‘No easy way’ to go global

Posted on  04/11/2011  |  Media Centre

Friday, November 4, 2011

Do your homework, take advantage of support schemes, businesses told

THERE is “no easy way” for Brunei businesses to penetrate the international market, the deputy minister at the Prime Minister’s Office said, as he urged local entrepreneurs to focus on market research and to leverage on existing support schemes.

Officiating the 2011 Local Business Development Forum yesterday, Dato Paduka Hj Ali Hj Apong noted the challenges of prioritising local production and distribution in a “very limited” domestic market.

Therefore, the deputy minister, echoing advice made by scores of other officials in the past, urged Brunei businesses to be “brave enough” to grow outwards into the overseas market and compete with regional and international players of their respective industries.

“But there is no easy way for our businesses to reach this stage of growth,” he said, addressing the audience of entrepreneurs at a hotel in the capital.

“Our businesses have to be internationally competent, and they must not be complacent with what they have already achieved.”

Dato Hj Ali called on businesses to draw on the experience of others in the industry and to benchmark themselves against the standards of the regional and international players.

“They must put in place strategic leadership that fits well within their business strategy and they must place greater emphasis on adopting sound corporate governance in order to infuse the values of fairness, responsibility, accountability as well as transparency in their business operations.”

Research and development, alongside innovation, were also seen as key to increase competitiveness in the market. Innovations can help businesses distinguish themselves from others, the deputy minister noted.

“As we are eager to see our businesses progress and grow in the international arena, it is also important that they get all the support they require to grow,” he said.

This “support” was already available in business facilitation schemes by agencies such as the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry (AITI), DST and the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR).

“For instance, (a) regionalisation and internationalisation programme such as (the) Promising Local Enterprise Development Scheme (PLEDS) under the BEDB initiative, will allow our promising businesses to venture into foreign markets,” he said.

Dato Hj Ali, who is also BEDB chairman, explained the scheme not only provided financial support but also mentorship services, links to “credible foreign partners” as well as the opportunity to get help from professional consultants to raise scheme applicants’ competencies to international level.

Other schemes such as the recently launched The Future Fund and the Accel-X Venture Capital Fund were also available for ICT firms, to help test business ideas and expand their operations abroad. For SMEs and micro-businesses, programmes such as the Local Enterprise Applications and Products (LEAP) were aimed to spur innovation.

The MIPR, through the Entrepreneurial Development Centre, also offered its own set of schemes including the Enterprise Facilitation, Micro-Credit Financing and Export Refinancing Schemes.

“In creating an ecosystem to support and increase the level of innovation and commercialisation efforts of our businesses, the establishment of effective legal mechanisms is pivotal,” the deputy minister said.

In protecting intellectual property, Dato Hj Ali shared that the BEDB together with the Attorney General’s Chambers was in the process of setting up a patent registry office. “As we prepare to transform Brunei into a diversified and industrialised economy and a global player in innovation and technology, I hope to see a growing number of locally developed and innovative products and services coming our way with higher commercial value and greater export potential for penetration into the international markets”.

The Brunei Times

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