Survival in Difficult Times Addressed at SME Workshop and Mentoring Session

Posted on  09/04/2010  |  Media Centre

9th April 2010

Asia Inc Forum’s Local Business Development Program 2010 in partnership with Baiduri Bank, The Brunei Economic Development Board, and Brunei Shell Petroleum was launched this morning at the Sheraton Hotel with a workshop and mentoring session on SME survival.

The workshop and mentoring session brought together more than fifty Bruneian entrepreneurs from five industries, to learn about priority areas for business survival with a special focus on cash management, cost control and customer loyalty.

In his opening remarks, Mr Pierre Imhof, General Manager of Baiduri Bank pointed out that SMEs will continue to play important roles in nation-building, and while SMEs may be facing difficulties, the challenges they overcome and lessons learned will strengthen their position for the future. In delivering his presentation on “Navigating Through Difficulty” Mr Martin Wong, Executive Director, KPMG Singapore revealed ten practical strategies based on a study of similar SMEs that survived the financial crisis.

“Cash is king,” explains Martin, “and it is important that cash is relieved from the working capital cycle to fund operating costs, service debt, invest in growth and deliver returns to the business owner and that he or she must have visibility in terms of cash and revenue sources.” “In terms of cost management, the focus should be making a leaner, more flexible organization, with cost reduction as the consequence, not necessarily just the target.” Martin has over 11 years of insolvency and restructuring experience.

He has todate been credited with the successful turnaround of several publicly-listed and privately-held companies in the real estate, construction, food and beverage, hospitality, manufacturing and logistics sectors. In complementing Martin Wong’s presentation, Hj Shazali Dato Sulaiman, Partner, KPMG Brunei added a local perspective with specific cases in point and practical advice on retaining customer loyalty.

To consolidate the discussion led by Martin Wong and Hj Shazali Dato Sulaiman, the event concluded with a Q&A mentoring session on “Coming Back from the Brink” with Sheikh Abas Sheikh Mohamad, Founder of Syabas Technologies. Sheikh Abas is well known for his critical thinking and comments, especially in the area of information technology and in the development of the private sector in Brunei. “Young entrepreneurs should have a far-reaching vision and as the business grows, must look to invest primarily in areas that provide return of capital or investment when times are good, in order to be well-placed in a downturn,” shares Sheikh Abas.

His advice has proven to be valuable especially with his appointment as an adviser in small and large-scale organizations. In sharing his entrepreneurial journey with participants, Sheikh Abas highlighted key guiding principles SMEs should keep in mind during difficult times, in both the professional and personal spheres.

The Workshop and Mentoring Session on SME Surival in Difficult Times is part of Asia Inc Forum’s Local Business Development Program, a year-long series to educate, nurture and strengthen SMEs in partnership with Baiduri Bank, The Brunei Economic Development Board and Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Contact: Ms Audrey Agus Din Phone: +673 2226555 Fax: +673 2229814 Email: