The Brunei government is continuously encouraging youths to contribute to economic growth by seeking opportunities in the world of business. In view of this, grant recipients under the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) are currently making headway in their ambitions with one young woman thriving in her chosen vocation.
As part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme under BEDB’s Youth Development Resources Unit for Micro Business Development, twenty-four-year-old Norhasyimah binti Saran currently makes over BND$1,000 in profit at the end of every month after setting up her own kiosk located on the grounds of the Sayyidina Husain Secondary School after BEDB granted her the first $2,000 in the form of equipment to help her business comes to life.
The former unemployed youth, who was 21 when she first learned of the scheme, caters to a very young clientele comprising school students and the occasional adult. Although the profit she makes may seem modest, her income does help pay the bill and feed her small family that includes her two-year-old toddler.
“Though I realise I can look for employment elsewhere, perhaps a much simpler way to earn an income, I’d rather run my own business and be my own boss. And cooking has always been my passion,” she said naming her business – Seri Cahaya Qaseh Restaurant and Catering.
Her story began in 2012 when she first considered starting her food and beverage business that leverages on her cooking skills that have been harnessed by her elders when she stumbled upon a tender advertisement to operate a canteen for a school. The biggest challenge she had to face then was the issue of financing her project. But as fate would have it, an acquaintance pointed her to BEDB whose personnel gave her the seed money she needed to realise her dream.
“We consider Norhasyimah as one of our more successful recipients,” expressed BEDB, especially considering the fact that micro businesses often find it difficult to break the four-figure profit mark that Norhasyimah has been able to accomplish despite having to compete with three other kiosk vendors that are also operating at the school.
With the help of her husband, the aspiring business woman has been determined to make a living for herself despite the odds that included issues in the tendering process, her pregnancy while setting up her business and, as of late, the rising cost of raw material.
Norhasyimah also caters to order during school holidays and during the fasting month as a means to ensure a constant income flow.
“We try not to increase our prices here at the canteen because we realise that the children may not have enough money to sustain them through the day and so what we do is we try to be smart in the way we prepare the food that we serve without compromising on quality,” she explained.
Under BEDB’s grant scheme, recipients are provided with a variety of trainings to enhance their skills including bookkeeping and communication skills. The latter, she said, has coaxed her out of her shell and has made her not just a better business woman but also a better individual.
The programme, said BEDB, works closely with their recipients to ensure their continued success and requires recipients to submit quarterly reports to ascertain their progress. Should they falter, BEDB would step in and provide the necessary support needed to help them get back on their feet whilst successful recipients are further engaged to determine the direction they wish to pursue.